John Winkler often took care of Adrian Langlais, treating the toddler as a grandson.
He was especially protective of Adrian around Christian Michael Tyrrell, the man accused of killing the 2-year-old boy.
Winkler testified Friday in Tyrrell’s capital murder trial, saying that Adrian was deathly afraid of Tyrrell. He recounted that on Dec. 26, 2014, Adrian ran to him when Tyrrell came to pick the boy up from Winkler’s home.
“He [Adrian] was shaking,” Winkler testified. “He didn’t want to go. He was making noises. He grabbed my legs and I picked him up he dug his fingers into my arms so hard he made indentations.”
Winkler refused to let Adrian leave with Tyrrell that day. Adrian was used to being around people, and Winkler described him as a happy, friendly child.
“I never saw him shy away from anyone except for Christian Tyrrell,” Winkler said. “I didn’t let him go. I couldn’t.”
Tyrrell is accused of beating Adrian to death, including slamming his head against a wall.
Because Tarrant County prosecutors chose not to seek the death penalty, Tyrrell, 24, faces life in prison without parole if convicted in the highly publicized case.
‘Adrian is frightened of him’
Winkler’s testimony was much like what he’d previously told the Star-Telegram in April 2015, a month after Adrian had died on March 19, 2015. Adrian was admitted to the hospital with massive head trauma and bruising on March 18, 2015, his second birthday.
Winkler got to know Adrian through his relationship with a woman whose son had dated the boy’s mother, Jessica Langlais.
He told the Star-Telegram that after he refused to let Adrian leave with Tyrrell on Dec. 26, he began receiving text messages from Langlais.
“John I don’t appreciate you insinuating that Christian is harmful to me and my child, Christian loves Adrian and is really good with him,” she responded.
“Adrian is frightened of him, that is a fact … I am concerned you do not realize it,” Winkler replied.
“That’s your opinion,” Langlais texted. “Please mind your own business.”
That was the last night that Winkler was allowed to watch Adrian.
In May, Jessica Langlais was also indicted on a capital murder charge. She is accused of causing her son’s death by striking him with or against a hard surface, injury to a child and failing to seek medical attention for Adrian. No trial date has been set.
Langlais took the stand briefly on Friday, but only said that she would not testify on the grounds that she said might say something incriminating.
More text messages
Other text messages were presented as evidence on Friday, but they came from Tyrrell’s mother, Golden Tyrrell.
Two weeks before Adrian was killed, a text message sent by Golden Tyrrell foreshadowed the coming tragedy.
“When you take him out, make sure he wears a hat,” read a text sent on March 5, 2015.
Another text sent around the same time said that Adrian’s head and ear were black and blue and that the she did not want anyone to see him, especially the boy’s biological father, Ulises Herrerra.
James Willingham, the state’s cell phone expert, testified that the messages were sent from Golden Tyrrell to the cellphone of Langlais, who sometimes shared her phone with Tyrrell.
During testimony Friday, Willingham also said he was able to capture several searches that were made on Langlais’ phone.
On March 17, a Google search was made seeking information on how to tell when someone was brain dead. Another search sought information on the causes of a concussion, while another asked about toddlers not being able to walk or use their arms after hitting their heads.
Also Friday, a DNA expert for the state, Trisa Crutcher, testified that DNA from Adrian’s blood was found on a doorknob of Tyrrell’s and Langlais’ residence, in the 1900 block of Cedar Tree Drive in Fort Worth. Adrian’s DNA was also found in an indentation in the wall of his bedroom, Crutcher said.
Testimony is expected to continue on Monday in State District Judge Elizabeth Beach’s court.