Defense calls witnesses Tuesday in Tre Henderson trial

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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Defense attorneys for Tre Henderson, on trial for the 2018 death of 5-year-old Ja’Shawn Bussell, will continue to present their case Wednesday morning in Scott County District Court.

Tre Henderson, 28, of Chicago, is charged with first-degree murder, child endangerment-multiple acts and child endangerment resulting in death. (KWQC/Scott County Sheriff's Office)

Attorneys Michael Adams and Jill Eimermann called four witnesses for about an hour Tuesday before Judge Thomas Reidel dismissed jurors for the day.

It was not known Tuesday whether Henderson will testify. A defendant is not required to testify or present any evidence because the burden of proof is on prosecutors. If Henderson chooses not to testify, it cannot be held against him.

Henderson, 28, of Chicago, is charged with first-degree murder, child endangerment-multiple acts, and child endangerment resulting in death.

Bussell’s mother, Jacqueline Rambert, 26, also of Chicago, pleaded guilty last month to two counts of child endangerment in connection with the boy’s death on May 1, 2018.

On April 27, 2018, Rambert called 911 and reported Bussell was choking and unresponsive. The boy was rushed to a local hospital and then airlifted to University Hospitals in Iowa City.

He died May 1, 2018, from complications due to blunt force injuries to the head. He also had numerous injuries, including 17 fractured ribs and bruises throughout his small body.

Henderson told investigators Bussell fell off the kitchen counter on April 22, 2018. Rambert testified Bussell was vomiting, hardly eating and was overly tired in the days following the alleged fall.

Henderson denied abusing the boy or causing his fatal injury.

According to trial testimony, Henderson moved in with Rambert and Bussell in late February 2018 to help her watch Bussell when she was at work.

One of the witnesses to testify Tuesday was Jennifer Krout, who babysat Bussell four or five times a week beginning in early January 2018 and ending on Feb. 25, 2018.

She testified the boy was “rambunctious, ornery, but a really good kid for the most part.”

Kourt said she noticed bruises on Bussell across his chest and his upper arms “like every couple of weeks.”

She said the bruises on his arms looked small, almost like a child or someone with small hands had grabbed him or pressed their fingers into his skin.

“He was a rambunctious kid so I thought maybe, you know, he got hurt playing,” Krout testified.

She said she asked Bussell if he fell on a toy or something, but he wouldn’t tell her how he got the bruises.

Krout testified she did not have a problem with the amount of bruising she saw on Bussell but said she began to wonder when she saw the bruises so often.

“It was concerning to you?” Adams asked.

“After a while, yes,” she replied.

Krout said she mentioned the bruises to Rambert, who told her she would ask Bussell about it when they got home.

She further testified she never met Henderson and that she believed Rambert was living along during the time she babysat Bussell.

When questioned by Scott County Attorney Mike Walton, Krout said she believed Rambert was a good mom and that Bussell seemed like a happy child.

Two former neighbors of the Rambert and Henderson also testified Tuesday and said they did not hear any noises coming from the couple’s apartment around the time Bussell was injured.