How did Makenzie die? Dueling pathologists testify in Jeremy Main murder trial

TAVARES — Did 17-month-old Makenzie Main die accidentally in the bathtub, or was she drowned by her father out of spite, because his wife was seeking a divorce?

It is the question in the first-degree murder trial of Jeremy Main, which started last week. If he's found guilty, Main faces the possibility of the death penalty.

On Monday, dueling state and defense pathologists agreed that Makenzie died of drowning at the Lady Lake home on Redbud Road on Oct. 9, 2017, but the defense expert said Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Wendy Lavezzi was too quick to classify it as a homicide, and she was prejudiced by statements made by law enforcement.

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What the experts said

Interestingly, both Dr. Levezzi and Dr. William Anderson, a private consultant, agreed there were no signs of trauma.

One would expect bumps, bruises, lacerations or other injuries consistent with someone forcing her down into the five inches of water that were in the tub, Anderson said.

Levezzi said there was no evidence of injuries caused by the child accidentally falling into tub.

The idea that she fell into the tub is the defense team’s theory. The Public Defender’s Office hired an animation expert and a biomechanical engineer to create a hypothetical accident scene.

How did Makenzie die? Dueling pathologists testify in Jeremy Main murder trial

Engineer Ying Lu said the child’s mother, Holly Farrington, described the child as a “little mountain goat,” who was able to climb up on a dining room chair, for example.

“You have no evidence that she was unconscious before drowning?” Williams asked.

She could have put her hands out in front of her in a sliding fall into the sloped side of the tub, Lu said.

Williams replied that if she was capable of getting into a tub with five inches of water, she was certainly capable of lifting her head to prevent her from downing.

In rebuttal, Williams played a brief video of the child playing in the tub, and he recalled Farrington to the stand.

It was usual for Main to bathe the child in the tub. Farrington said she usually took a shower with the child.

Main sometimes sent videos of her and Makenzie while she was at work, but the tub video was shot just three days before Makenzie died.

“I don’t know what his intent was,” she said.

Guilt phase coming to a close

Both sides rested Monday afternoon. Main refused to take the stand. Attorneys will give their closing remarks Tuesday morning before Circuit Judge James Baxley and the jury.

No one knows what the individuals on the 12-member jury will decide. The defense is arguing that he is guilty of aggravated manslaughter, if anything.

Nor does anyone know what image will stick in the jurors’ minds.

Will it be an animation of a child climbing into a tub; the happy, real tot splashing water, surrounded by toy? Or the image left up on the screen for a long time of Makenzie, wearing a diaper, floating face down, looking for all the world like a plastic doll left in a bathtub?