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British Nanny To Be Cross-Examined

October 27, 1997

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) _ British au pair Louise Woodward has told jurors her side of the story, how she never struck or shook 8-month-old Matthew Eappen before he died of a head injury.

The soft-spoken teen was gently guided through the testimony at her first-degree murder trial last week by her attorney.

The prosecution was expected to begin its cross-examination today. Closing arguments in the case, which has attracted huge attention in Britain, could come as soon as Tuesday.

Woodward, now 19, is accused of fatally shaking and slamming Matthew out of frustration with her job and impatience with a fussy baby. Matthew was rushed to the hospital Feb. 4 in a coma and died five days later.

On Thursday, Woodward described her panic at seeing the baby in his crib after he awoke from a nap. The boy, she said, was gasping for breath with his eyes half-closed. She said she shook him gently in an attempt to revive him.

Woodward also said she enjoyed her job as caretaker to Matthew and his 2-year-old brother, describing days spent reading and singing to the boys, taking them for walks and dancing with them in a play room.

She admitted that demands made on her as an au pair often frustrated her, but she said she did nothing to hurt the child. Woodward said Matthew might have hit his head in a fall the day before he was hospitalized.

Expert witnesses called by the defense said the injuries that led to the death were caused about three weeks before he died and not the day that he was left alone with Woodward.

The au pair faces a mandatory life prison sentence if convicted. Jurors are also expected to receive instructions on second-degree murder and manslaughter.

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