Murder trial set to begin Monday in East Naples 2-year-old’s death in 2006

Abigail Boran

Abigail Boran

Todd Akers

Todd Akers

— Abigail Rose Boran suffered many injuries in the last few months of her life.

It ended three days shy of the East Naples girl’s third birthday, two days after she was dropped four feet to the ground — head-first.

Whether jurors will hear about her past abuse — or just the episode that ended her life — will be decided Monday morning.

That’s when Collier Circuit Judge Fred Hardt hears pre-trial motions before attorneys select a jury in Todd Allen Akers’ trial on charges of premeditated first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse.

If convicted, the 29-year-old East Naples man faces an automatic life prison sentence, without parole, in Abby’s May 7, 2006, death from six skull fractures.

Assistant State Attorney Steve Maresca has filed what’s called a Williams Rule motion, which, if granted, allows the prosecution to show prior bad acts to prove motive, intent and lack of mistake.

Court-appointed defense attorney Kevin Shirley of Punta Gorda will argue against that, and will finish a hearing that began in October by presenting the testimony of a psychologist. The motion asks the judge to suppress Akers’ three-hour videotaped interrogation, barring jurors from hearing it.

Shirley contends detectives used “unduly coercive techniques,” false or misleading statements, contradictions, accusations and suggestions of grief to obtain “inherently unreliable” statements from Akers.

In his videotaped interrogation, Akers admitted he’d taken out his frustrations on his then-fiancée, Nicole Lee Napier’s, baby because he’d just buried his father, he’d been beaten as a child, he and Napier had financial problems, and Abby wouldn’t stop crying after hitting her head.

The 6-foot Akers showed detectives how he’d cradled the crying 33-pound toddler, then let her drop four feet to the floor, on her head.

“You almost sound like you’re kind of like just throwing this Abigail around the house ... kind of like a basketball. ... Is that true?” Collier sheriff’s detective Ray Wilkinson asked after Akers detailed how he’d abused Abby over three months and again on May 5, 2006, which led to her death when she was taken off life support.

“No,” Akers said, adding that he’d just dropped her. “This is stuff I don’t mean to do.”

“... I love being with her,” Akers said later.

“That’s a strange kind of love, huh?” Wilkinson said shortly before arresting Akers on May 6, 2006. He’s been in the county jail since then.

It was just hours after Abby was rushed to the hospital from the couple’s apartment at The Enclave in East Naples.

In addition to skull fractures, an autopsy showed bruises on her scalp, chest, thighs, lower leg, stomach, back, upper arm, wrist — and hemorrhages. The fractures were “high-velocity” injuries, not from being dropped, and brain injuries suggested she might have been shaken.

Abigail Boran

Abigail Boran

If convicted, Todd Allen Akers, a 29-year-old East Naples man, faces an automatic life prison sentence, without parole, in Abby’s May 7, 2006, death from six skull fractures.

“You almost sound like you’re kind of like just throwing this Abigail around the house ... kind of like a basketball. ... Is that true?” Collier sheriff’s detective Ray Wilkinson asked after Akers detailed how he’d abused Abby over three months and again on May 5, 2006, which led to her death when she was taken off life support.

Akers initially denied hurting Abby, telling detectives she hit her head falling out of bed and was injured at a day-care center: “She’s always saying, ‘My head hurts, my head hurts.’ ”

He said he’d heard a “thump” and found her lying by her “Dora the Explorer” bed. He said he cradled her and called 911 because she was gasping, drifting in and out of consciousness and throwing up.

Detectives told him that didn’t match the injuries doctors found. He cried, and told them she’d fallen and hit her head kicking a beachball that day.

“It was a pretty hard thud,” he said.

But Wilkinson warned Akers that Abby would wake up and tell them what really happened. He asked Akers if he’d dropped her.

Akers wouldn’t budge. However, after being asked to take a polygraph exam, he admitted he’d dropped her. “She fell and went straight on her head,” he said, demonstrating.

He began crying, but Wilkinson told him he’d done the right thing and Akers conceded it was good getting it off his chest. Still, Wilkinson pressed on with Akers, contending he still was holding back.

Akers showed how he’d picked her up and she fell backward, on her head, gasping. “It just happened.” She wasn’t moving and her eyes were rolling back, so he called 911. “I thought she was dead.”

Detectives told him she had six skull fractures. “Clear your soul,” they urged, prompting Akers to reply, “I’ve pushed her before.”

Wilkinson demanded Akers be more truthful. Akers said he’d once jerked a blanket out from under her. “What else ...?” Wilkinson prodded.

Akers said he was holding her and just let her fall because she wouldn’t stop crying, and he’d hit her head once with her plastic telephone just weeks earlier.

There will be a battle of medical experts and jurors also will hear from Abby’s mother, Napier.

She met Akers in Kentucky and thought he was the nicest man she’d ever met, too nice even, she told detectives. They moved to Naples and she worked as a waitress at Castaways Bar & Grill and he got a job as a beverage deliveryman.

She will tell jurors how she’d come home from work and Akers would tell her Abby hurt herself, crashed into a mirror, or fell. It wasn’t until Abby’s death that she said she’d realize Abby hadn’t done it herself.

Jurors won’t hear from Abby’s father, Ryan Boran, whom Napier met at Castaways, where he also worked. He couldn’t handle Abby’s death.

“I drove Ryan to the hospital and was there when the staff pulled the plug,” said attorney Dave Agoston, Boran’s uncle by marriage and his closest friend. “I watched Abby die in the arms of her parents.”

“He took it very hard,” Agoston said. “All of us did. All three families did.”

Later, Agoston said, Boran’s girlfriend died and his grief grew. He moved to Denver, hoping a change of scenery would help. It was there, Agoston said, that he killed himself last August.

If Akers is convicted, it’s Agoston who will read a victim impact statement to the judge, detailing the effect Akers’ actions have had on three families linked together by one pretty little girl.

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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