Man kicked 2-year-old in head, foster mom testifies
By Ben Aguirre Jr.
HAYWARD — Sherrie Corder, the wife of a man charged with killing a 2-year-old foster child in their Fremont home in 2004, testified Thursday that her husband hit and kicked the boy, and then suggested that the couple hide his body the next morning when it was discovered that the toddler was not breathing.
“He said, ‘It’s too bad we can’t hide the body,’”‰” Sherrie Corder said as she tearfully offered her account of events that preceded the boy’s death.
Terry Corder, who has been married to Sherrie Corder for 16 years, is charged with murder and assault on a child, causing death.
The boy, named Dylan, was beaten Oct. 2, 2004, inside the Corders’ Lahana Way home in Fremont, but died two days later in a hospital, officials have said.
During the autopsy, it was determined that the boy died from blunt trauma to the head, and that he had more than 20 bruises under his scalp.
Both Sherrie and Terry Corder, each 45, were charged with the boy’s death, but Sherrie accepted a plea agreement in 2006 in exchange for her testimony. She has pleaded guilty to child endangerment and will be sentenced at the end of her husband’s trial to either four or six years in prison.
Because of the time she already has served in jail, Sherrie Corder — who is out of custody on bail — may not spend any time in prison.
She began her testimony Wednesday afternoon and returned to the stand Thursday, and will testify again Monday when the case resumes.
She told jurors that she checked on the boy throughout the night and feared he might be badly hurt, but didn’t call police “because I was scared for my girls.” Her daughters were ages 2, 5 and 7 at the time.
“I thought they’d be hurt and taken away because Terry hurt Dylan.”
All three girls — two of whom have testified during the trial — are now in foster care.
Sherrie Corder also gave details about the beating that ensued when Dylan refused to eat his food.
She said her husband, who had been drinking that day, forced Dylan to walk in circles, and hit him on the head with his knuckles several times. At one point, Terry Corder knocked the boy to the floor with a kick to his buttocks, and then delivered a kick to the toddler’s head as he was on the ground.
“It was hard enough that it moved Dylan “… a couple of inches,” his wife said when describing the force of the kick.
After the assault, she said she gave the boy a bath and then held him for a while before he fell asleep. That evening, her husband concocted an alibi for the bruises and blood on the boy’s face. He urged her to lie and say that the boy fell in the bathtub, Sherrie Corder testified.
At times during her testimony, Sherrie Corder cried, particularly when prosecutor Elgin Lowe replayed the 911 tape for the jury.
On the tape, Sherrie Corder told emergency dispatchers that the boy was not breathing, likely because he fell in the bathtub the night before.
Defense attorney Barbara Thomas started her cross-examination by focusing largely on the credibility of Sherrie Corder.
Under questioning from Thomas, Sherrie Corder said she didn’t pay taxes when she was working as a baby sitter in San Mateo County in the 1990s, and that at one time she and her husband were addicted to cocaine.
Thomas also played a videotape of the first interview Sherrie Corder had with Fremont detectives.
While the video was playing, Sherrie Corder remained on the witness stand sometimes dabbing tears from her eyes. At times, Thomas stopped the video to ask her to elaborate on certain aspects of what she was being asked on the video, also to help discern what parts of it were true or false.