The man accused of killing his 2-year-old stepdaughter broke down in tears on the witness stand Thursday as he told jurors that he didn't intend to harm the toddler, who called him Daddy.
Samson Loynachan, 32, testified that he picked up the sick child from day care because her mother -- his girlfriend -- couldn't and was trying to cheer her up when he picked up an arm rest from his Bronco and hit her in the head
He said he thought the arm rest was stuffed with foam but realized too late it had a metal bar inside
. He said the child looked surprised but didn't appear hurt.
"When you picked up that arm rest, did you realize the damage you could cause?" defense attorney Fred Cummings asked.
"Not at all," Loynachan said, before choking up with tears.
But Loynachan acknowledged telling other stories about what happened to the child Aug. 25, 2010 -- that she'd fallen on the playground or tripped over a backpack and hit a coffee table.
"How is this jury supposed to know what to believe?" Cummings asked.
"The truth is what I've said here today in court," he said.
Loynachan is charged with capital murder in the death of Chloe Robinson, who died from a severe blow to the head that caused bleeding on the brain and deadly swelling.
Prosecutors Alana Minton and Eric Nickols presented evidence that Chloe became unconscious within an hour after Loynachan picked her up from day care.
Experts have disagreed on the injury's cause.
Dr. Sophia Grant, a pediatrician and child abuse expert at Cook Children's Medical Center, testified Thursday that Chloe's injury was caused by severe shaking and that the child would have become unconscious almost immediately.
Defense expert Amy Gruszecki, a forensic pathologist from Dallas, testified later that a single blow to the head likely caused the injury and that the symptoms could have developed over several hours, even up to 24 hours.
Chloe showed no other signs of abuse, although she had two scraped knees. A prosecution witness told jurors that she saw Loynachan drag the child up concrete stairs, but Loynachan said she fell in the parking lot. Gruszecki said the scrapes were not consistent with dragging.
Defense witnesses testified Thursday that Loynachan was an attentive father who seemed to settle in well to family life just a few months after Chloe and her mother moved into his home. The house was often filled with children, witnesses have said, with Loynachan's two children from a previous marriage and Chloe's three half-sisters often spending time there.
Chloe's mother, Nicole Robinson, testified that she and Loynachan were married while Chloe was in intensive care at the hospital in hopes that she could get Loynachan's military benefits.
Loynachan testified that he wanted to marry Robinson so he could be a real stepfather to the child.
"I wanted to be Chloe's daddy," he testified. "They said she was going to pass away."
If convicted of capital murder, he could face life in prison. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty. Jurors could consider a lesser charge.