SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – New testimony was heard today in the murder case of a toddler near warsaw late last year.

Four-year-old Jessica Mast died after being beaten and forced into a pond in mid-December.

The prosecutor dropped Kourtney Aumen’s first-degree murder charge down to second-degree murder.

Both sides were able to begin admitting evidence for trial – including photos of the night Jessica was killed.
Aumen’s co-defendants, Mary, James, and Ethan mast were subpoenaed to testify in the hearing today but refused.

A Benton County deputy took the stand first – spending nearly 4 hours describing the signs of abuse he saw on Jessica’s body.

He told the court Kourtney had been hired as the mast’s nanny – and eventually ended up having relationships with both James and Ethan.

While the prosecutor claims Kourtney Aumen was the one who manipulated the Masts and forced abuse onto their kids, the defense today argued Aumen was a victim herself, saying she had been sexually assaulted by James mast.

The defense says there is little evidence to show Aumen – who is now 22 – ever actually harmed Jessica.
A lawyer with the attorney general’s office also called a medical examiner to the stand…Who says she ruled Jessica’s cause of death as “homicidal violence.”

So now that Aumen’s murder charge has been dropped to second-degree – she’s set to appear now in the circuit court for a bond hearing on December 8th, which means she’ll also get a new judge.

Both Mary and James Mast have their preliminary hearings scheduled for December 22nd.