Vodou & Demons: Day 2 in Ohio mom trial reveals graphic details of son’s brutal murder in Laurel
LAUREL, Miss. (WDAM) - Day two of the Latina Oates trial revealed graphic and disturbing details in the death of Oates’ 11-year-old son.
Tuesday afternoon’s testimony began with Dr. Mark LeVaughn, a forensic pathologist with the Mississippi Department of the State Medical Examiner’s officer, who performed Oates’ son’s autopsy.
WARNING: The following contains graphic details that some may find disturbing.
In his testimony, LeVaughn detailed the numerous injuries Josh received to his head, neck and arms.
In total, the child suffered about 60 individual injuries with 10 different puncture wounds from the metal rod to the head.
LeVaughn described them as “numerous, unique, and horrific.” Josh also received several defensive wounds to his arms and hands, LeVaughn testified.
The jury was shown 5 autopsy photos out of the 165 that were taken.
Next, the jury viewed forensic interviews of Oates’ two other elementary-aged children, who were in the hotel room when the incident happened.
One child in the interview said Oates attacked Josh, and he kept asking his mother why she was doing this to him. Oates then dragged her son into the bathroom, according to the child’s interview.
Both children said they heard yelling and crying from the bathroom in their interviews.
The metal rod was also presented as evidence to the jury during testimony.
Earlier on Tuesday, Laurel Police Department Investigator Abraham McKenzie took the witness stand as testimony in the case. As part of his testimony, jurors watched interrogation footage from Oates’ arrest in March 2020.
WARNING: The following video summary contains graphic details about a child’s murder that viewers may find disturbing.
In the footage, Oates talked about how she’d been learning about Vodou when she felt a spirit overcome her and tell her that her 11-year-old son Josh was a demon. She said the spirit told her to go south towards New Orleans. When the family made it to Laurel, Oates said she decided she had to kill Josh. She then went into graphic detail about how she tried multiple ways to kill her son before she succeeded at driving the metal rod into his head.
Oates said she gave Josh NyQuil to get him to sleep. McKenzie testified that officers found an opened bottle of NyQuil and a Dollar General receipt for the medicine inside the hotel room.
After giving Josh the medicine, Oates said she tried to drive the rod, which she called a stake, through his chest while he was in bed. She said the rod wouldn’t go through.
Oates said she then made Josh go to the bathroom and that he kept telling her he wasn’t evil or a demon. However, she told officers she didn’t remember everything; it was all a blur.
Oates said she remembered they were standing up fighting when she managed to push Josh into a tub filled with water that she described as black. Oates said it was enough to incapacitate Josh for a minute, so she began to strike him in the head with the rod, but he managed to get up. She said she then turned the rod around and hit him so that it knocked him out.
When Josh fell again, Oates said she tried to push the stake through his skull. She described how she had to use both hands to push it in and that she felt the strength of her ancestors helping her do it.
Oates later told officers in the video that she loved kids and would never hurt them. She said that killing an 11-year-old was wrong, but killing an 11-year-old demon was different.
Oates said the murder weapon was something one of her other children found while the family was still in Ohio. She said that when she first touched the rod, it was hot to the touch and drained her energy. She explained that she put it in the trunk of her car before the family headed south but didn’t know what she was going to do with it at that point.
NOTE: The following is a clip from the interrogation video prosecutors presented in court.
McKenzie’s testimony also included his body cam footage as officers surveyed the hotel room where the murder occurred.
The video shows unmade beds, black hoodies that helped identify Oates and her children in security camera footage and the blood-covered bathroom where a maid discovered Josh’s body.
NOTE: WDAM 7 is not airing the part of the video where the bathroom is shown due to its graphic nature.
McKenzie testified officers found a receipt in the hotel room that was time-stamped a little after 2 a.m. on March 15, 2020, at the Clark’s Gas Station in Laurel. Security camera footage from that gas station showed Oates and all three of her sons in a white car.
Police used this information to help locate Oates and her two surviving children - ages nine and six - in New Orleans, where she was arrested.
Following McKenzie’s testimony, the court went into a brief recess.
The trial is set to resume on Wednesday at 9 a.m.
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