Even after Neil Edgar Sr. told police that he had tied up and gagged his son Brian Edgar, three other children refused to implicate their parents in wrongdoing.
Three surviving Edgar children were interviewed Dec. 30, several hours after Edgar took 9-year-old Brian to KU Med, where he was pronounced dead.
On Friday, jurors in the murder trial of Edgar and the family baby sitter, Chasity Boyd, watched videotaped excerpts of interviews that child advocates conducted with two of the Edgar children.
“I think he died a natural death,” Brian’s 12-year-old brother told the interviewer. “It was just his time to go.”
The brother and a 9-year-old sister adamantly maintained that their parents did not physically harm them, although a biblical quote recited by the girl reflected what her parents had taught them.
“To learn, you must love discipline,” she told her interviewer.
Edgar’s wife, 46-year-old Christy Edgar, pleaded guilty Thursday to felony first-degree murder and child abuse. Neil Edgar, 48, and Boyd, 20, face the same charges.
As the children were being interviewed at the Sunflower House child advocacy center, detectives from Kansas City, Kan., questioned Neil Edgar about the injuries and lines of adhesive residue on Brian’s body.
The prosecution contends that Brian was wrapped in duct tape and that he choked on his own vomit.
The Johnson County District Court jury Friday watched the videotaped statement that Edgar gave police.
Edgar told Kansas City, Kan., Detective Mike Kill and Capt. John Cosgrove that he alone was responsible for tying and gagging Brian the night before the boy died.
On the morning he talked to police, Edgar said that before he put Brian to bed the night before (Dec. 29), he had used belts to bind Brian’s arms and legs. He said he was trying to prevent the boy from running around the house while other family members slept.
“He was kind of just getting into things that could be harmful,” Edgar explained. He also said he placed a sock in his son’s mouth and used a piece of tape to hold it in place “so he wouldn’t be hollering so loud.”
On the videotape, Edgar appeared to begin sobbing and told detectives: “It was an accident. I was trying to help my child.”
Edgar said that in the morning, when he was unable to wake Brian, he panicked. He said he rushed the boy to the hospital but admitted that before leaving he told his wife to dispose of the evidence that Brian had been tied up.
Edgar said he did that because he had panicked and was scared.
Edgar’s attorney, Carl Cornwell, told jurors Thursday that Edgar’s taped statement to police was a lie. Cornwell said that Edgar falsely took the blame to protect his family.
When the interviewers who were talking to the children in December learned what Neil Edgar had said about using socks and tape to restrain Brian, they asked the children about those kinds of incidents.
The girl began crying and said several times that she was afraid to be taken away from the family. She refused to say anything about discipline.
The older boy also expressed concern about being taken away from the Edgars and placed in foster care, where the children had been placed before the Edgars adopted them.
“Our parents didn’t do nothing to us. I’ll tell you that right now,” he said.
He volunteered a comment before the interviewer had even brought up the topic.
“We don’t ever get tied up,” he said. “We don’t ever get a whipping.”
He also provided a comment about his fears of losing his parents and going back into foster care at the age of 12.
“People come for the young puppies,” he said. “They don’t come for the teenage puppies.”
A 16-year-old brother also was interviewed, but the tape was not played for the jury.
Other testimony Friday came from Erik Mitchell, the pathologist who performed an autopsy on Brian.
He noted injuries of varying ages on Brian’s arms and legs and said they were consistent with something like a rope or cord being used to bind him.
Mitchell said that Brian suffocated and that traces of stomach fluids were found in his lungs, suggesting that he had vomited while his mouth was covered.
Testimony is scheduled to resume Monday.