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Shawn Main

Shawn Main. PCSO photo

Testimony concluded Friday in the two-part Chronis hearing surrounding the blunt-force trauma death of 3-year-old Tiana Capps in 2015.

The defense team for Shawn Main, the woman charged with Tiana’s murder, called the special hearing months ago to require the state to establish probable cause in the death-penalty case.

Pinal County Sherriff’s Office Homicide Detective Michael Benedict testified March 2. The first portion of the hearing was held in January with testimony from a medical examiner.

A portion of Benedict’s testimony expanded on an allegation of a note allegedly written by Main the day after Tiana’s death. Prosecutors previously alleged the letter exonerated Main’s wife Maria Tiglao and the children’s biological mother, Tina Morse.

The three adults lived together with Morse’s four children in unincorporated Maricopa. Tiana was pronounced dead at Banner Casa Grande Medical Center Nov. 19.

Deputies allegedly discovered the note at Main’s residence Nov. 20 after they responded to a missing person’s call from Tiglao, according to court documents.

Written on lined paper, the note reads in part:

“To whom it may concern:
November 2015
I, Shawn Main, take full responsibility in the death of Tiana Capps. She would never have died if I sought medical attention the first night she was falling. Whether I thought it happened from her acting out on purpose or not, had I not let my pride get in the way, she would still be here alive. Neither Chris Tiglao nor Tina Morse had any knowledge of what was happening when Tiana was falling over and over. Nobody else had any contact with her so that leaves me responsible for her alleged sexual abuse as well. I am not worthy of keeping my life when she never had a chance to live hers.
Shawn Main”

After searching the property, Benedict said deputies found Main in a detached garage.

At that time, Benedict was in Tucson at Tiana’s autopsy.

“I received a text message from patrol while I was at the autopsy that Ms. Main had tried to take her own life,” Benedict said. “She was being transported to the hospital.”

Benedict further testified that photos taken of Main included “pretty substantial injuries to her forearms.”

Main eventually recovered from her injuries and was interviewed at her home Dec. 5.

In response to a counter by the Defense Attorney Chester Lockwood, Benedict testified Main had stayed consistent in her explanation of the bruising on Tiana’s forehead during all three police interviews prior to all three women’s arrest on Dec. 24.

Benedict said Main never evaded questioning by detectives.

Prosecutors have until March 12 to file a memorandum with the court regarding the Chronis hearing. The defense is expected to file a response a week later. The state can submit a rebuttal by March 23.

Possibly delaying the upcoming trial is Main’s “major surgery” that has yet to be successfully scheduled, Main’s defense said in court.

The four-week trial is set for July 31.

Main will appear in court for a pre-trial hearing April 2, pending a confirmed surgery date.

Shawn Main. PCSO photo

 

The medical examiner who conducted the autopsy of 3-year-old Tiana Capps, whom the state alleges was abused then killed by her caretaker near Maricopa, testified in court Thursday.

Jennifer Chen with the Pima County Office of Medical Examiner said her examination on Nov. 20, 2015, revealed the child suffered at least 12 “impacts sites” to her face and head caused from a blunt force object.

The trauma caused abrasions, contusions, two hemorrhages on the brain and eventually death. Chen listed the toddler’s death as a homicide.

Chen’s autopsy report also found Tiana was “undernourished,” weighed 24 pounds at the time of her death, and had poor dental health and a severe diaper rash.

Prosecutors say Shawn Main is responsible. She’s facing a first-degree murder charge and the death penalty along with multiple counts of child abuse. Thursday’s testimony was part of a Chronis hearing, required in Arizona to establish probable cause in death-penalty cases.

Main allegedly told police in 2015 she was Tiana’s sole caretaker at a home they shared with two other women and Tiana’s three siblings in an unincorporated area of Maricopa. One of the other women was the children’s biological mother, Tina Morse.

The state claims aggravating factors in the case include the girl’s young age and the “especially heinous, cruel or depraved manner” of the crime.

Main’s defense counsel asked Chen whether Tiana could have been asleep or unconscious during the impacts, and if it was possible the toddler could have felt no pain if the latter were true.

Chen said pain levels are subjective, but the child would have had to suffer at least one impact before losing consciousness.

“Generally, head trauma causes pain,” Chen said.

During questioning from both sides, Chen testified she could not determine whether the trauma was caused by a blunt object striking the child’s head or if her head repeatedly hit a blunt object.

Main allegedly made statements to police explaining Tiana had been “falling a lot” before her death and had become “defiant and oppositional,” prosecutor Shawn Jensvold said in court.

“(The child’s) injuries were not consistent with a simple fall,” Chen said.

The defense pointed out during questioning that the autopsy report did not list any defensive wounds on the child’s hands and forearms.

In response to prosecution, Chen said Tiana would “likely not” be able to defend herself against an adult because of her age and that an undernourished body causes “a person to feel weaker, tired, with less energy.”

Chen’s testimony also included questions from prosecution about a note allegedly authored by Main after the autopsy report.

In it, Jensvold said Main allegedly “exonerated the other two adults that were in the house.”

Testimony from the detective on the case is expected to reveal more about the note and other details when the hearing continues March 2 at 8:30 a.m. at the Pinal County Superior Court.


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