NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A former Norfolk daycare worker is on trial for second-degree murder.

This is a case WAVY News 10 has been following for two years, since police charged Jessica Cherry in the death of 2-year-old Kaylee Thomas.

Thomas was in Cherry’s care when medics found the child unresponsive in a playpen in August 2020. Court records show Kaylee was smothered to death and suffered from blunt force trauma. The medical examiner ruled her death a homicide.

WAVY News 10’s Andy Fox is at the Norfolk courthouse, where a jury trial got underway Tuesday. The trial is expected to take three days.

On the first day, the parents took the stand and said when they delivered their child across the street to Jessica Cherry’s unlicensed daycare, Kaylee had no bruises. 

Norfolk Sr. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Andrew Kolp called first to the stand the Assistant Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Nicole Masian who determined Kaylee Thomas died from probable asphyxiation loss of oxygen from suspected smothering.  

Dr. Masian said she determined this due to the number of bruises around Kaylee’s lips mouth and chin. Dr. Masian also told the court she could find no natural causes that led to the death. 

On cross-examination by Cherry’s attorney Emily Munn, Dr. Masian could not rule out CPR caused the bruising. Munn spent a lot of time trying to undermine Dr. Masian’s testimony.  

Kaylee’s mother and father also testified not knowing how the bruises got on the body, saying they did not do it, but they were also unaware of a scab behind the ear that was in the process of healing.  

The parents were also unaware Kaylee had two viruses found during the autopsy that Munn suggested may have led to the respiratory issues that contributed to Kaylee’s death.  

Kaylee’s father admitted he sometimes spanked Kaylee, but never needed to hit her.  

“I spanked her on her butt with my hand…I didn’t notice anything about her condition when it took her across the street to daycare…she was strong as an ox.” 

Jessica Cherry has other cases against her, she had another child die who was in her care that case is pending along with another one where a child was injured, those cases still making their way through the court system. 

While the mother was on the stand, she said she was in the process of moving her child out of the Cherry home but had not followed through on that.  

First thing tomorrow a police investigator continues his testimony on the investigation into the death. 

This isn’t Cherry’s first time facing serious charges involving a child in her care.

This past February, Cherry was in court to face a charge of felony child neglect involving a 1-year-old girl who was seriously injured while she was watching her back in 2018. That child suffered a fractured skull and bleeding near the brain. That trial ended in a deadlocked jury.

Another child, 1-year-old Benjamin Gates, was found unresponsive while in Cherry’s care in January 2020; he died days later. She was indicted on a charge of malicious wounding in that case.