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Testimony continues
Boy had six blows to head
Gilbreath Trial 4 es
Judge Jeffrey Bagley listens to testimony Thursday morning in the beating death trial. - photo by Emily Furtsch
Testimony continued Thursday in the trial of a man charged in the alleged beating death of his former girlfriend’s adopted son.

Joshua Pinckney was 2 years and four months old on Feb. 13, 2009, when his adoptive mother, Miriam Pinckney, found him dead in her home on Catalina Drive.

Pinckney and her then boyfriend, Christoper Brian Gilreath, were each indicted in November on one count of murder, two counts of felony murder and one count of aggravated battery.

Both were also indicted on two counts of first-degree cruelty to children and one count of possession of cocaine.

Pinckney pleaded guilty earlier this month to a cruelty to children charge. She was sentenced to serve five years in prison and 15 years probation.
Gilreath’s jury trial began Wednesday in front of Forsyth County Superior Court Chief Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley.

John Pinckney testified Thursday that he and Miriam Pinckney are currently in divorce proceedings. He has custody of their 3-year-old adopted daughter.

Both children were living with their mother at the time of the boy’s death.

John Pinckney, who lives in South Carolina, testified that his wife brought the children to meet him in Augusta on Feb. 9, 2009.

He said his daughter had stitches on her face from an alleged dog bite, but his son appeared to be fine. He did not know about the girl’s injury before the visit.

“I insisted that she get a Web cam so I could see the children,” John Pinckney said.

Over the next two days, the parents used a camera hooked up to a laptop computer so the children could see their father over the Internet.

John Pinckney said he did not know Gilreath or that the man had been staying at Miriam Pickney’s house, which was near Cumming and Lake Lanier.

He also testified outside of the jury’s presence that his estranged wife once slapped their daughter on the forehead for not eating her fruits and vegetables and that she threatened the children with beatings.

He said the children were too young to understand her and that she used foul language with them.

Brooke Atkinson testified that she was the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office’s lead investigator in the case. She was present during the boy’s autopsy at the GBI crime lab.

Atkinson said the autopsy did not reveal an exact time of death and that it was not clear when bruises found on the boy’s body occurred.

The autopsy revealed about six blows to the head, Atkinson said, adding that marks from the blows were under the skin.

She said there was blood inside the boy’s mouth and an injury was found in his groin area.

In photographs of the boy and his room shown to the jury, Atkinson identified vomit on the bed and bruises found on his face, abdomen and legs.

She said evidence indicated Miriam Pinckney went to her job at a law firm in Buckhead that day and came home for lunch. She then went back to work, returning home for the night about 5:30 p.m.

Sheriff’s Investigator Jeff Roe testified that during the investigation he found copper scrubbing pads under the driver’s seat of Miriam Pinckney’s vehicle . One of the pads was torn and missing pieces.

Roe said pad parts often are used as filters in drug-smoking devices.

Testimony in the trial is expected to continue into next week.