Norfolk parent accused of felony child abuse appears in court

Posted at 4:06 PM, Aug 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-16 18:29:15-04

Robert Griffis is charged with felony child abuse, felony child neglect and malicious wounding.

NORFOLK, Va. - Robert Griffis, accused of playing a role in the May 2017 death of 2-year-old Evalynn Arnold, appeared in court Thursday for a third day of trial.

Family members of Arnold could be seen crying at times, and her biological father even got so upset at one point that he left the courtroom. As for Griffis, though, he didn't show any emotion, even when pictures of her injuries and final hours in the hospital were shown to the jury.

Griffis, who claimed to be one of the sole caretakers for Arnold, is facing child abuse and malicious wounding charges for the child's death last year. He is the fiancé of Arnold's mother, Destiny Martin.

In recordings taken from the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters, where Arnold was treated after a call to Norfolk Police for an unresponsive child, Griffis denies having anything to do with her injuries. But through the questioning, according to the recordings, he becomes more and more agitated, and at one point is seen on camera punching the interrogation room wall.

Wednesday's trial wrapped up with a child abuse specialist from CHKD who helped treat Arnold on the stand. She described the severity of the child's injuries, which reportedly included facial bruises, lost teeth, head trauma, brain swelling and major bruises on her back and scalp.

In court Thursday, the defense's main argument was that Arnold injured herself, pointing to the fact that she was known to bang her head on the wall when she was upset.

The jury was given the case later in the day Thursday and was unable to come to a unanimous decision before 5:30 p.m., when the judge decided to send them home for the day. They will return Friday morning to continue their deliberations.

Martin is also due in court later this month.