A United States Coast Guardsman facing a military court-martial for his alleged role in the death of his 3-year-old daughter sat quietly in court Wednesday as prosecutors presented graphic photos taken just before she died showing deep bruises on the toddler’s cheek, ears, and neck and cuts on her chest.
Petty Officer Jimmy Barlow, 31, was charged by the Coast Guard last year with four counts of felony child endangerment for failing to protect and care for his daughter after she sustained injuries that led to her death.
His wife, Holli Barlow, was the last known caretaker of Eden. She was charged last month by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office with felony child abuse with a special allegation of willful harm or injury resulting in death for failing to seek medical care for Eden.
Wednesday's hearing was the first time Jimmy appeared in court on Alameda’s Coast Guard Island. He has been stationed in Kodiak, Alaska since late in 2011 after Eden’s death.
In addition to the photos of Eden’s injuries, prosecutors produced text messages between Holli and Jimmy obtained by Alameda police investigators that they plan to exhibit during the trial. Prosecutors say those text messages will help demonstrate Jimmy failed to protect Eden and that his actions led to Eden’s death.
Attorneys for both sides also questioned two Alameda police officers who investigated Eden’s death. They testified Holli and Jimmy agreed to turn over two cell phones and two laptops after Eden was admitted to Children’s Hospital Oakland.
Officer Craig Vreeland explained how he extracted information from the cell phones using a universal forensic extraction device.
Lt. Wayland Gee testified he saw Eden on several occasions at the hospital and that the photos shown by prosecutors accurately represented her injuries.
Jimmy’s attorney Colby Vokey argued that much of the evidence presented during the hearing by prosecutors should not be allowed to be pre-admitted to the court.
The case is unusual in that the charges against both Barlows came years after Eden’s death in September, 2011.
Barlow and his attorney both declined to comment on the charges following the hearing. His attorney previously told NBC Bay Area that Eden's death was the result of an accident.
A Child Protective Services report obtained by NBC Bay Area shows Holli called 911 on August 31, 2011 after hearing a thud and finding Eden unresponsive next to her toddler table. Paramedics rushed the girl to Children’s Hospital Oakland, but Eden never regained consciousness.
When questioned about Eden’s injuries, medical records show Holli told medical staff the toddler’s injuries stemmed from a fall down a flight of “seven-to-eight concrete steps” nine days prior.
CPS records indicate doctors were immediately suspicious of Holli’s story and they alerted Child Protective Services and the Alameda Police Department.
Eden died at the hospital September 3, 2011. The coroner ruled her death a homicide, caused by blunt force trauma to the head.
Although the CPS report stated Alameda police detectives believed they were close to making an arrest just weeks after Eden’s death, years passed before that actually happened.
As it turned out, the Coast Guard would actually make the first move, charging Jimmy last year for his alleged role in Eden’s death.
Earlier this year, the family of Eden’s biological mother contacted the Investigative Unit frustrated that Alameda County prosecutors never charged Holli with a crime for her involvement in the girl’s death. But following weeks of questions by NBC Bay Area, prosecutors filed the felony child abuse charge against Holli August 18, 2017, just days before the statute of limitations for that charge would expire.
Holli’s arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 28. She has not yet entered a plea. Jimmy pleaded not guilty and his trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 4 on Coast Guard Island.