Troy Taylor murder trial: Ihaka Stokes' mother denies causing toddler harm
A woman has denied repeated accusations in court that she and not her partner killed her 14-month-old son.
Mikala Stokes, 21, told the High Court in Christchurch that she "never hit" her son, Ihaka, and did not cause the extensive injuries that led to his death in July 2015.
She admitted she tried to protect her former partner, Troy Taylor, when she was questioned by police shortly after Ihaka died because she "[didn't] want him to go down for this".
Taylor, 23, is on trial for the assault and murder of Ihaka Stokes. He has pleaded not guilty and will give evidence in his defence.
Stokes appeared as a witness on Tuesday. She described their relationship as "amazing", that Ihaka called Taylor "dad" and the two adored each other. The pair had discussed Taylor adopting Ihaka and her unborn child.
Defence counsel Phil Shamy pressed her on her reliance on Taylor and her ability to cope with Ihaka, who was often unwell. He cited numerous text messages from Stokes to Taylor, repeatedly asking when he would be home and referring to Ihaka's welfare, in the weeks before the boy's death.
Shamy noted Stokes was home alone with Ihaka the afternoon of the day he died while Taylor was out getting a tattoo. She was eight months pregnant and caring for a tired child with an ear infection.
"That must have irritated you."
Stokes said she had been able to cope that afternoon.
Shamy continued: "Did you harm Ihaka when Troy was out?
"No," Stokes said,
Shamy: "Did you kill this boy?"
Stokes: "No. I didn't hurt him. I don't hurt my children."
Shamy asked Stokes about her interview with police shortly after Ihaka died, and why she answered a question about if she had hurt her son with "not that I know of" and a reference to her own sleepwalking, before eventually saying no.
"I said that because I love Troy . . . That was me protecting him."
The prosecution and defence agree Ihaka's injuries were "non-accidental" and that Taylor and Stokes were the only other people in the home.
Earlier, Stokes told the court she was woken by Taylor about 10.40pm on July 3 telling him there was "something wrong" with Ihaka. They ran to the boy's bedroom.
"Ihaka was lying on his back, pale as, blue lips and not breathing."
Every few minutes the boy would take "a big gasp", she said. Taylor called 111.
A recording of the call was played in court. Taylor could be heard administering CPR to Ihaka. Stokes sounded distressed in the background.
"We ended up in the kitchen and I was just talking to Ihaka telling him that he'd get through this," she told the court.
Stokes accompanied Ihaka to Christchurch Hospital in the ambulance and waited while he was treated in the emergency department. Ihaka was pronounced dead at 11.40pm.
"They told me to pretty much come and say goodbye. There was no chance."
The trial continues.