SANFORD, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Rachel Fryer sat at the defense table in court Thursday afternoon, smiling at times. Fryer is accused of murdering her two-year-old daughter, Tariji Gordon. The toddler was found dead in a shallow grave in February 2011. The medical examiner ruled the child died from blunt force trauma to her head.
Fryer's defense attorney opened the hearing, arguing that Florida's new death penalty statute should not apply to Fryer. Judge Debra Nelson opted not to decide, yet. "I'm going to reserve ruling until Florida's Supreme Court issues a ruling," Judge Nelson told the court.
This was a very frustrating afternoon for Penny Jones. She adopted Fryer's three surviving children. "It's felt like we're never going to get closure and I've kind of resigned myself that as long as we're pursuing the death penalty, that may be the way it is. Now with all the supreme court rulings on the death penalty, it could take even longer," said Jones.
Fryer's attorneys asked to postpone the bond hearing they asked for a second time. Judge Nelson reserved ruling on two medical decisions -- one being whether Fryer should get an MRI. Fryer's attorney told the court that Fryer suffered a severe seizure as a young child and that she also survived a near drowning, both of which he says could have caused brain damage. "That's the first time I've heard about it. I think its just another ploy," said Jones.
Fryers trial was scheduled for earlier this month. Jones says the delays are weighing on her family."Realistically we have no closure as a family until the trial is over. The children have to keep on getting prepared to testify as we're told we're going to trial and then another motion comes about," said Jones.
Jones said something for the first time publicly today, she does not want Fryer to get the death penalty if she's found guilty of murder. One of the big reasons, her children have to testify. "Just wouldn't want them to have to carry that around on their shoulders and if she were sentenced to death, how long would that take? Another 20 years. We don't need that on our shoulders. We want closure," said Jones.