Adoptive mom accused of killing kids and freezing bodies goes on trial in Md.

A 9-year-old girl clutching a Valentine's Day teddy bear testified Wednesday in the murder trial of the woman she called her "ex-mother" and who is accused of killing the girl's sisters and putting their bodies in a freezer. (Feb. 17)
By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 18, 2010

At times sweet and always poised, a 9-year-old girl mesmerized a Montgomery County courtroom Wednesday with the harrowing story of life inside the home of Renee Bowman.

Bowman is accused of killing the girl's sisters and stuffing their bodies into a freezer for more than a year in a crime that stunned the region and cast a spotlight on D.C.'s child welfare agency, which had allowed Bowman to adopt the three girls.

Seated in a witness chair 20 feet from Bowman for 30 minutes, the girl testified publicly for the first time about what she and her sisters endured.

How many times, a prosecutor asked, did Bowman choke her?

"I can't remember, because she did it so often that I couldn't keep track."

"What would it do to you?"

"I couldn't breathe."

"Anything else?"

"I would faint."

The girl, who escaped by jumping out a second-floor window about 17 months ago, testified in the first day of Bowman's trial. Bowman is charged with killing two girls and abusing the third.

The 9-year-old survivor, who is being raised by foster parents in Calvert County, repeatedly referred to Bowman as her "ex-mother." She paid little attention to Bowman, seated to her left. Her eyes might have darted that way during cross examination, but for the most part she looked at the lawyers while she spoke.

Officials have guarded the girl's privacy as she tries to start a new life with new parents.

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