Andrew Griffin looked a little skinny, but was otherwise normal. Or maybe he wasn't. His mother couldn't be sure.
In a videotaped conversation at Baltimore County police headquarters hours after her young son was declared dead in 2007, Susan J. Griffin veered from certainty to indecision when describing Andrew's condition in the weeks before his death.
Her comments were aired yesterday in Baltimore County Circuit Court on the third day of a trial in which Griffin and her husband, John, both 39, of Rodgers Forge, are accused of first-degree murder and child abuse.
"He's got no health problems that I'm aware of - well, he does," Susan Griffin told a detective, acknowledging the boy's weight loss but not his emaciated condition and the wounds covering his body, which had alarmed the emergency-room staff at St. Joseph Medical Center when his father brought him in, lifeless, the day after Christmas.
"He's fine," she said. "Well, he obviously isn't fine. It's just something I didn't see."
Prosecutors said Andrew, who was almost 3 years old at the time of his death, weighed what a normal 3-month-old baby does and was almost as tiny. An autopsy revealed the cause of death to be starvation.
"I know he's small," Susan Griffin said. And yet, she noted, "Andrew eats everything in the house." Yes, she conceded, he had "little scratches" on his body, "but nothing major."
Referring to the boy's injuries, Griffin said his mouth "looks really nasty," with signs that a tooth had penetrated his lip, but blamed it on the child's habit of biting himself. She said some of the scratches might have been made by one of Andrew's brothers.
Told that police had found bloody paper towels in a trash can and blood spatter on the boy's bassinet and the walls and ceiling of the room, Griffin said Andrew "had nose bleeds."
She complained frequently of being exhausted and stressed but, she said, "It doesn't make me want to go and harm my kids."
Later, she said, "I'm going to be blamed for the scratches, I guess."