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The Auckland man accused of killing his two-year-old step daughter was "lost for words" when told of the little girl's fatal injuries, in what the defence says is the genuine reaction of an innocent man.
The High Court at Auckland was told today that Michael Joseph Martin, 25, didn't injure Leilani Mary-Jane Lotonu'u and doesn't know how she was hurt.
Martin denied murdering Leilani at their Manurewa home in June 2012 and the defence says the child's mother Amy Lorigan must be responsible.
The Crown says Martin struck Leilani when Ms Lorigan was out shopping. The blow ruptured an internal organ and caused a fatal infection.
In her closing argument today, defence lawyer Michele Wilkinson-Smith said Martin had no history of violence towards Leilani and was described even by Ms Lorigan's friends as a good parent to her.
The Crown's case was a "theory" that made Martin's behaviour look suspicious when there was no evidence against him.
"That's because there's no evidence at all that Michael Martin became violent towards Leilani."
Ms Lorigan could have been charged and a convincing case made against her too.
Mrs Wilkinson-Smith said a neighbour heard her telling Leilani to f*** up before she went out shopping.
The fatal blow could have been delivered then, by Ms Lorigan, who was struggling to cope with looking after Leilani and another child she had with Martin.
And it was him who suggested taking Leilani to a hospital she became more unwell on the afternoon of June 9, 2012.
Ms Wilkinson-Smith said the only reason Martin was charged was because police determined the fatal blow happened when Ms Lorigan was out, between about 12 and 1pm.
There were "problems" with that assumption.
Police told Martin about Leilani's injuries in the days following her death.
The defence says he was "utterly shocked" and "lost for words".
Leilani was pronounced dead just before 6am on June 10, 2012, when paramedics were unable to save her.
Mrs Wilkinson-Smith reminded the jury to start their deliberations from a presumption of innocence.
Persecutor Christine Gordon, QC, closed the Crown case yesterday.
Martin has also pleaded not guilty to a charge of child neglect for failing to provide Leilani with medical assistance.
Justice Graham Lang will now sum up for the jury.
- Jimmy Ellingham of APNZ