Abilene man accused of killing of newborn changes stories during interviews with police

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Day Two of the Capital Murder trial of an Abilene man accused of killing a newborn just moments after birth revealed the defendant, Damian Cate, gave police multiple conflicting stories about what happened. 

During Part 1 of Cate’s taped interviews, which is detailed below, he adamantly denied knowing that his girlfriend, Amber Craker, had given birth or that she was even pregnant.

Part 2 of the taped interviews were much of the same, beginning with Cate telling the Abilene police detective he was unaware of a bloody knife found on the floor of the room where the newborn, Baby Ashley, was born.

Later in the interview, Cate admitted to owning a knife similar to the one found but said he never saw it at the crime scene. 

He also stuck to the story that he wasn’t aware of Craker’s pregnancy and that he never saw Baby Ashley, but more than two-and-a-half hours into his interview, he changed his story, saying he found the baby lying under a chair after Craker called for his help and that he attempted CPR a few times with no success. He even said he held the baby for about half-an-hour after she was born.  

Cate told the detectives Baby Ashley wasn’t breathing, crying, or making any noises, but she was still warm. 

At this point, it would still be hours before police find Baby Ashley’s body hidden inside a trashcan initially located in a bathroom at the Craker home on the 400 block of S. 25th Street. 

Once she was found, a new detective entered the interview room and broke the news to Cate that Baby Ashley had been found with her throat cut, to which he replied (with little emotion), “I don’t know nuthin’ bout that.”

Cate then changed his story again, reverting back to the original claims of not knowing about the pregnancy or even seeing the baby, but soon he once again admitted to holding Baby Ashley and even attempting CPR.

However, he denied all allegations that he slit her throat, even saying in a moment of frustration, “I didn’t cut the m***********”.

He kept telling detectives Amber could have done it but he wasn’t sure. He later changed that story to say she for sure cut the baby’s throat but he doesn’t know why.

Cate says he was holding Baby Ashley when Craker walked up and slit her throat.

Cate’s Defense team argues that though Cate does change his story multiple times, he kept reverting back to the original story about never knowing about the pregnancy or the baby whenever he’s asked to tell the truth. 

Defense attorneys also got the Abilene police detective to admit he lied to Cate when he said Craker’s parents, who were present and providing assistance in the aftermath of the ‘birth’, had seen Baby Ashley.

BigCountryHomepage will continue coverage on Cate’s Capital Murder trial Wednesday morning, as the Defense continues to cross-examine the Abilene Police Detective who interviewed Cate. 

Forensic Expert: Blood spatter in multiple rooms, though not a lot around baby’s body 

Day Two of the Capital Murder trial began when a forensic expert walked the jury through pictures and evidence related to the crime. 

The expert, a 10-year veteran of the Abilene Police Department, began his testimony by describing a series of pictures, each depicting blood spatter and other potentially bloody items found in various locations throughout the scene where the ‘birth’ took place at a home on the 400 block of S. 25th Street in January of 2016. 

The pictures showed the most significant blood spatter was found in the bathroom and in the bedroom defendant Damian Cate, 24, shared with the newborn’s mother, Amber Craker, 22. 

A bloody knife and pair of scissors were also found in their bedroom at the foot of the bed. These items, along with a pair of pliers found in the bathroom, a bloody sock detectives later learned was used to plug a hole in the baby’s neck, and a trash can where the baby, named Baby Ashley, was finally found after police searched the property for more than 6 hours. 

This forensic expert also detailed several locations where blood spatter was found around the bed, even on the frame, but there was nothing on the top of the mattress. However, there was significant spatter on the underside of the mattress. 

At this point, as the expert told prosecutors, “it became obvious it [the mattress] had been flipped.”

After the crime scene was processed and no baby was found, the toilet was removed. When plumbers were unsuccessful there, they moved outside and found what appeared to be human tissue lodged in the septic system, but still no baby. 

Police then remembered the trashcan, which was initially in the bathroom but had been placed in a patrol car for transportation the Law Enforcement Center, and decided to dump it out right there on scene. They then found Baby Ashley, who was born full-term, about halfway down, completely covered by bloody tissues and diapers – hours after officers first arrived at the home.

During cross-examination, Cate’s defense attorneys drew attention to the fact that there was only a minor amount of  blood in the trashcan with Baby Ashley, suggesting there should have been more if her throat was slit while she was alive, but the forensic expert said it’s not uncommon for there to be little blood near a body – even if someone was bleeding when they died. He said this is especially true if the body has been moved. 

Damian Cate Interview Part 1: “I never saw nothing”

The second witness to take the stand during Day Two of the trial was an Abilene Police detective who interviewed Cate the morning Baby Ashley was killed. 

Cate described the events leading up to the ‘birth’ during the interview, saying Craker had been cramping since Friday, and when he returned from a visit out of town Sunday, the cramping had gotten worse and later that night, she was lying down with a heating pad when she heard a “pop”, started bleeding, and ran into the bathroom.

Craker continued to bleed out, and Cate says both her parents, who also lived in the home, were in the bathroom helping her.

Cate says Craker’s father used tongs to pull something he described only as ‘flesh’ from Craker’s body, as well as out of the bathtub and toilet, then place it into the trashcan.

When asked if this flesh could have been a baby,  Cate denied seeing the baby or any identifiable body parts multiple times. He kept telling the detective the flesh must have been from Craker, but he didn’t know what it was. 

Craker, according to Cate’s testimony, initially refused to go to the hospital when she started bleeding but once she passed out from blood loss, her family rushed her to the emergency room.

The detective told Cate doctors there were able to determine Craker had just given birth to a full term baby, though Cate continued to deny ever seeing one and insisted that if Craker was pregnant, it was only a by a few days. 

Day Two of Cate’s Capital Murder trial will continue with the rest of his taped interview. Stick with BigCountryHomepage for the latest information from court. 

Craker was convicted of the same charges Cate is facing – Capital Murder and Tampering with Evidence – during her trial, which took place over a 4-day period in September, and was sentenced to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

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