By LINDSAY OLIVIER
NORTH KINGSTOWN – “Camden was a little adventurer, was creative, loved music, science and swimming. She was a brave, spirited and vibrant little girl. She had just finished the second grade at Fishing Cove Elementary and had enjoyed one last trip to the North Kingstown Town Beach with some new friends, when, on the evening of Aug. 10, 2009, her mother strangled and murdered her with her own hands.”
Those were the opening remarks by Rhode Island Assistant Attorney General Steven Regine Friday morning while a school picture of Camden Fry was projected in front of the jury. As Regine spoke, a visibly shaken Kimberly Fry, Camden’s mother, broke down several times.
Nearly two years after Kim Fry was arrested and charged with second-degree murder of her eight year-old daughter, the trial began Friday morning after a lengthy juror selection in which seven men and seven women, including two alternates, were chosen.
Fry is charged with second-degree murder after her daughter was found dead on the morning of Aug. 11, 2009. It’s alleged that Fry strangled Camden after she refused to take a bath the previous evening.
Regine informed the jury that, over the course of the trial, they’d hear from various medical professionals including Dr. William Cox who performed a four-hour autopsy and who determined the cause of death as “manual strangulation”.
He described Fry as college -educated and who previously worked as a nurse and said the Fry family moved to Rhode Island in 2007.
Prior to their move, Kim and her husband Tim began noticing difficulties with Camden and her “outbursts”. She was ultimately diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in June 2009 and, prior to her death, was put on an ADHD medication Focalin 5mg. Almost immediately, the Frys were seeing improvement in Camden’s behavior.
Regine told the jury that when Tim Fry, Kimberly’s husband, left for a hockey game, he said Kim was in “good spirits”. When he called her around 9 p.m. to ask how everything was going and to let her know that he was on his way home, she stated that Camden was “fine, quiet now and in bed sleeping, but only after a two hour crying fit.”
“She [Kim] was not crying or sobbing and showed no emotion in that phone call,” Regine stressed. “Camden was already dead.”
Regine explained to the jury that just before Tim arrived home from the hockey game, Kim attempted suicide by swallowing pills, but not before she “penned a suicide note to him” in which she wrote “this was no accident. I wanted to run away, not from you, but from her tantrums. All I wanted was a nice, decent life.”
In her opening statements, Defense Attorney Sarah Wright countered that Kim never intended to hurt Camden.
“The ultimate issue here is: were the actions Kim took that night intentional?,” she said.
“Evidence will show it was not murder, but a tragic accident, due to force in the attempt to restrain Camden during a tantrum.”
Wright said “the pain of losing her is something her parents will never forget and something her mother will never forgive herself for.”
Wright told the jury that among the defense witnesses will be former Rhode Island Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Elizabeth Laposata, who conducted an independent autopsy on Aug. 19, 2009.
“Dr. Laposata doesn’t disagree with Dr. Cox’s findings,” Wright said. “She just concluded that Kim’s actions didn’t cause the death and that it was completely unintentional.”
Wright further explained to the jury that the Frys tried to help Camden with her academics and her behavioral problems. They looked into having her tested by the school, but when Camden was found ineligible, they got it done on their own. The Frys also got counseling for assistance in behavioral techniques.
Opening arguments from the defense also stated that Kim suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), insomnia, depression and panic attacks.
You’ll see a note written by Kim, but you’ll find it isn’t a confession, but a suicide note,” Wright said. “And Kim doesn’t write about taking her daughter’s life. It was about taking her own life.”
The first full week of the trial began Monday, with Tim Fry taking the stand that afternoon.
On Tuesday morning, jurors heard the seven-minute 911 call made by Tim to the North Kingstown Fire Department.
It was the first time Tim had heard the recording since he made the call and it proved to be too much for him. He buried his head in his hands on the witness stand while Kim sobbed uncontrollably.
Throughout the call, it was hard to hear Tim talk between the loud sobs and screams from both himself and Kim while they were in Camden’s bedroom.
“She’s all bruised and mottled,” Tim said in the transcript of the 911 call. “And she’s got … she’s stiff. She’s got rigormortis. She’s dead. She’s gone. Oh, God … Oh, my God, she’s gone! (crying) I cannot believe it! Kim, wake yourself … please! Oh, God, no! Oh, (sobbing) … oh, no! oh, no! No Camden (inaudible) oh, God! (screaming) Oh, God, Camden Alexis…oh, my baby!”
“Rescue personnel came into Camden’s room with monitors and machines and I was told to back away from her,” Tim said on the witness stand Tuesday afternoon. “I remember telling them it was pointless, but to do what they needed to do.”
Tim recalled checking on Camden the morning of August 11, 2009, because it wasn’t like her to sleep in. Around 9 a.m. , he went to her room and realized she wasn’t moving. Just prior to making the 911 phone call, he pulled the covers off and rolled her on her back. She was holding onto to her favorite stuffed elephant. He testified that her body was “stiff” and he noticed a bump on her forehead.
While still on the phone with the 911 dispatcher, police and firefighters began showing up and both Tim and Kim were guided out of Camden’s bedroom and into the living room where Timothy placed a brief call to his sister informing her of what happened. Timothy said it was brief because he couldn’t get himself under control to speak further.
After the call he went back to the living room where he found Kim sitting on the floor leaning up against the couch.
“My sister soon arrived along with a priest,” he said. “There was a lot of crying and not much discussion. We were all still in shock. Kim remained on the floor crying and sobbing quietly. I didn’t understand and couldn’t believe this was happening.”
Tim stated that just before the medical examiners were about to close the body bag, Kim and Timothy were allowed to say one last goodbye to Camden. Tim said Kim had trouble walking so a North Kingstown police officer had to help her down the hallway.
Once in the bedroom, Kim draped herself over Camden’s body sobbing and saying “I’m sorry, I’m sorry”.
“After we said our goodbyes we went to the porch area,” Tim said. “She was unable to support herself so myself and the officer again had to help her walk.”
Upon arriving in the porch area, Tim immediately noticed Kim’s physical condition and thought she was under the influence of something as she wasn’t responding in an adequate manner. Regine asked Tim why he didn’t initially notice Kim’s state. Tim said he was too consumed with the chaos of the scene.
Tim testified that he went to a kitchen cabinet where the family’s medications were stored and noticed that many of the bottles, such as Clonazepam, Cymbalta, Vicodin, Flexeril and Ambien, were empty.
Kim was ultimately transported to South County Hospital by NKFD and was accompanied by Tim’s nephew.
After speaking with police, Tim went to the hospital to check on Kim’s condition and later spent the evening at his mother’s house in Chepachet. The next morning, Tim went back to the hospital to check on Kim and they had a brief conversation where he asked her what happened the night he was at his hockey game.
Tim testified that Kim said she had a battle with Camden inwhich Camden began punching, kicking and biting her.
“She said she sat on Camden and when that didn’t do anything, Kim went and took a Clonazepam to help her calm down,” an emotional Tim testified. “She went back to Camden and the two began fighting again. That’s when Kim said she sat on top of her and held her hands over her nose and mouth.”
Tim filed for divorce in April 2011 and hasn’t resided in the Ricci Lane home since Camden was found. The only times he has returned to the residence were to retrieve personal items and only if someone accompanied him. Tim stated he decided to end their marriage after a second interview with North Kingstown police, days after Camden died. The last communication he had with Kim was on Aug. 17, 2009.
Since Kim has been at the Adult Correctional Facility (ACI), Tim has never visited her but spoke briefly to her on the phone when she called on Aug. 16, 2009. Kim called a second time and asked Tim to send her money for her “jail kitty”, which he did on the advice of his attorney.
At the end of Tuesday’s session, Tim testified that one week after Camden died he was still in shock. To help him accomplish what he needed to do, he made lists on notepads.
As he was leaving the Ricci Lane residence one day after retrieving some personal belongings, he noticed what appeared to be a brand new pad on a table in the living room. He later noticed pages of writing and recognized it as Kim’s handwriting. The pad was turned over to police. As of press time, Tim hadn’t described what the writings entailed.
Regine rested Tuesday afternoon and cross-examination by Wright was scheduled to begin Wednesday morning.