Trial Day 4: Witnesses say accused newborn killer has ‘severe intellectual disabilities’, IQ of 53

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Editor’s Note: Click here for a recap of Day One of the Capital Murder trial, click here for a recap of Day Two, and click here for a recap of Day Three. 

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Prosecutors rested their case Friday afternoon in the trial of an Abilene man accused of killing a newborn just moments after birth, prompting defendant Damian Cate’s defense team to call witnesses testifying to his whereabouts leading up to the crime and his history with special education.

First on the stand following a brief re-call of the lead detective on the case were two Eastland residents acquainted with Cate’s grandparents, who say they saw Cate in Eastland in the days before the newborn, Baby Ashley, was killed. 

Following their testimony, three members of the special education department at Cate’s former school district were called to testify to his intellectual and emotional disabilities. 

One witness, a former teacher, said Cate graduated high school reading at a 1st-grade level, and that was an improvement from his 8th-grade reading level of pre-primary. 

Another witness, a special education diagnostician who performed various cognitive testing on Cate, testified that he performed with the mental abilities of a 3 to 7-year-old, depending on the test administered, and has an IQ score of 53 – well below the average of 100. 

Testing including academic subjects like reading, writing, math, pattern following, and comprehension, as well as assessments designed to gage Cate’s emotional development. 

All three special education witnesses agreed Cate exhibited emotional disabilities and has a difficult time relating to his peers and reading social cues. 

The third witness, another teacher, touched a little more on his intellectual disabilities but then began testifying about a seizure disorder she believes is caused when he sees blood.

She observed him, on two occasions while under her care, having seizures because he saw a tiny drop of blood or a small cut. 

This testimony correlates with Cate’s interview with police, in which he said he was having a difficult time being around Baby Ashley’s mother, Amber Craker, when she was giving birth and bleeding because blood makes him have seizures.

Prosecutors reminded the jury that all three special education witnesses have not seen or contacted Cate since he graduated high school in 2013, so they are unaware of what his been doing or what his mental status has been over the past few years. 

Court will continue Monday morning as Cate’s defense calls more witnesses. Stick with BigCountryHomepage for the latest information. 

Facebook messages: Cate tells friend he’s ‘fixing to be a daddy’ 

Facebook messages revealed in court during Day 4 of the trial of an Abilene man accused of killing a newborn just moments after birth show he may have told a friend he’s “fixing to be a daddy” even though he told police he wasn’t aware of the pregnancy.

An Abilene police investigator began her testimony by reviewing digital footage of the crime scene – a home on the 400 block of S. 25th Street the defendant, Damian Cate, 24, shared with the newborn’s mother, Amber Craker, 22. 

Contents of a washing machine inside the home were also admitted into evidence, including sheets, towels, a bath mat, a heating pad cover, a sock, and a rug. 

All the items were covered in what appears to be minor blood spatter, except the fitted sheet and one towel, which were heavily soiled with what looked like blood pooling, spatter, and possibly other fluids on the fitted sheet, indicating Craker most likely gave birth on the bed. 

Next, the Abilene police investigator testified to Facebook messages sent from Craker’s account to a third party in the days before the newborn, Baby Ashley, was born. 

On January 15, two days before the birth, Craker told the third party something happened while she was in school and that “it felt like something warm and wet, like my water broke”, followed by another message that stated, “I’m having bad labor pains.”

The conversation continues with the third party expressing concern for Craker as she describes her pain. 

On January 16, more messages were exchanged from Craker’s Facebook account to the same 3rd party, though it appears Cate may have been using Craker’s account.

The first message reads, “Hey [third party] its Damian”.

He then asks the third party what happened to Craker at school and talks about taking her to a clinic but says they sent her home because doctors thought she was just cramping. He also mentions plans for a home birth. 

Later, Craker’s Facebook account sends another message that reads “nm fixing to be a daddy.”

Cate’s defense attorneys, during cross-examination of the Abilene police investigator, argued these messages, which indicate Craker and Cate were together when they were sent, contradict text messages sent from Cate’s phone to a person believed to be Craker’s mother, discussing how he was headed back to Abilene from out of town. 

The texts, which were sent during the same time frame as the Facebook messages, talk about Craker’s cramping but nothing is ever mentioned about the pregnancy, even though the Facebook messages make it seem like Cate is aware of the baby. 

The Defense Team also claims the rhetoric used in the Facebook messages does not match the rhetoric in Cate’s texts, mentioning differences in spelling, word choice, and punctuation. Prosecutors argue this could be due to auto-correct on the different platforms. 

Cate’s phone, according to the Defense Team, also revealed he had downloaded a “Period Calendar”, which had Craker’s last period marked as January 14. 

In some of the texts, Cate discusses her period being on the 14th, suggesting he was unaware she was nearly 9 months pregnant. 

BigCountryHomepage will keep providing twice-daily updates from court as Cate’s Capital Murder Trial continues. Check back for the latest information. 

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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