MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The State plans to reveal tattoos, partying and lie after lie in the First Degree Murder trial of a Memphis teen mother accused of killing her infant child.
Shakara Dickens is on trial for the murder of her nine month old daughter, Lauryn Dickens. The child's body has never been found.
At 19 years old Dickens was a mother of two; her mother took care of her oldest child, and she took care of 9-month-old Lauryn. The baby’s father is in prison. Dickens had a job at Wal-Mart to support her child.
In opening statements prosecutors told jurors Shakara Dickens showed little concern after Lauryn’s disappearance. She was tattooed, planned to go clubbing, shed no tears, and showed no distress.
When family began wondering where Lauryn was, the State says Shakara told at least three different stories about what happened to her baby.
According to prosecuting attorney Jennifer Nichols, Shakara reportedly said that "she put Lauryn Dickens up for adoption," and "she told people his parents had her baby," Nichols told the jurors.
Then there's the story Shakara Dickens told police.
"She’d taken a nap then heard a knock on the door," stated Nichols. "She opens the door and there’s a 40ish white female … who says 'Ben sent me, I'm here for Lauryn.'"
The defense told jurors their client may have been a bad mother, but that doesn’t make her a murderer.
Defense attorney Murray Wells stated, "There’s a complete absence of any blood, there’s a complete absence of any DNA, there’s a complete absence of any evidence."
The two biggest factors in this case are the fact that the infant’s body has never been found, and that a police dog detected an odor of human remains on the floor of Dickens' car.
Not only does the state has to prove Lauryn was killed, but also that she was killed by her mother.
The first witness called to the stand was the baby’s doctor. He saw the infant at the end of August 2010, and said Lauryn was healthy. There were no signs of abuse, he never saw her again.
Dickens' long-time friend, Toya Rockamore, broke down in tears on the stand when shown a picture of Dickens out partying while Lauryn was missing. Rockamore often babysat Lauryn. She said Dickens asked her to watch the infant over Labor Day weekend, the same weekend the baby disappeared.
"She asked me to babysit; I said no because I was going out of town," Rockamore testified.
After that, she says Dickens avoided her calls. A few days later Rockamore confronted Dickens at Wal-Mart, asking her about her Lauryn. Dickens told her Lauryn was with her grandparents and they wouldn’t give her back. Rockamore told Dickens to contact the police.
Several days later Memphis Police officer Donna Boykin says she took a missing child report from Dickens.
"She said she spoke with her child’s father, he was going to send someone over to get the baby," the officer said. "On [September 7, 2010] a female white showed up to get the baby and [Shakara] gave it to her."
Boykin told jurors that Dickens was calm, didn’t seem worried, didn’t cry, and never called the station about the report again.