By Harriet Ryan
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BARNSTABLE, Massachusetts (Court TV) -- A toddler found clinging to her murdered mother's body probably did not witness the killing, a state police detective who interviewed the child testified at the trial of the man accused in the fatal stabbing.
The trooper quoted 2-year-old Ava Worthington as saying, "Mommy's lying down. Mommy won't get up," when questioned a few hours after her mother, Christa, was discovered dead in their cottage in Truro on January 6, 2002.
"She said, 'Mommy dirty. Tried to clean mommy,'" Detective Kimberly Squire told jurors at the trial of Christopher McCowen.
According to police witnesses, a pool of blood surrounded the head of the victim, a 46-year-old fashion writer. There were child-sized bloody handprints on her abdomen.
Squire said Ava also told her, "Those are my paints, not mommy's."
McCowen, the man who collected trash from the Worthington house, is on trial for first-degree murder, aggravated rape and armed burglary. The 33-year-old ex-convict was arrested three years after the crime when the state crime lab matched him to DNA on Worthington's body.
Squire testified that during her interview with Ava and another one she observed the following day, authorities avoided asking Ava if she had seen someone hurt her mother.
"I tried not to be leading at all in any question. I left it vague. When she said, 'Mommy won't get up', that was the extent of it," she said.
"After that second interview, I felt that she did not witness or see anything that happened to her mother that night," she said.
Authorities believe Ava was left alone with her mother's body for more than a day. The girl was attempting to nurse from her mother when an ex-boyfriend of Christa Worthington came upon the scene and called police.
When Squire asked Ava if anyone has visited her recently, she named the ex-boyfriend, Tim Arnold, and his dog, Sammy. Arnold was at one time the prime suspect in the murder.
Ava Worthington, now 7, is being raised by a childhood friend of her mother. Her father, Tony Jackett, was also a suspect in the killing. He fathered Ava during an extramarital affair with the victim, and they had argued over paternity and child support.
She was on a list of potential defense witnesses, but after court, defense lawyer Robert George said he would not call her to the stand.
McCowen faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.
Police believe Ava Worthington, then 2, spent a day with her mother's body.