A witness has remembered baby Karlos Stephens' mother "strangling" another one of her children weeks after Karlos' death, the jury has heard.
The defence case in the murder trial of Shane Claude Roberts, 61, started today with three witnesses taking the stand.
Roberts is standing trial for the murder of 10-month-old Karlos sometime between November 29 and 30, 2014.
Roberts' lawyer Simon Lance addressed the jury, telling them there were a number of "gaps" in the Crown case they needed to think about.
He said the defence case included the ex-partner of a friend of Roberts, who alleges she was with them the night before Karlos died, an ex-flatmate of Karlos' mother and an Oranga Tamariki worker.
Karlos' mother Pamela Stephens had stayed with a man called Murray Grey for six weeks shortly after Karlos died.
Grey took the stand this afternoon, telling the court Stephens was a friend of his partner and had stayed with them at their Manuka Cres address as she had "nowhere else to live" by herself.
She had lived with them until he "caught her doing something to her baby", referring to another one of her other children, and they asked her to leave.
Grey and his family had come back home and heard both Stephens and a baby "screaming", he said.
He said Stephens had asked her mum if she could babysit one of her children for the day, so he ran to the bedroom and found it locked.
Inside, he could hear Stephens "swearing and screaming" and the baby "choking", he said.
He said he "booted in" the door and found Stephens "on top of the baby", sitting on his stomach and "trying to quiet" him by "strangling" him.
Stephens' hands were wrapped around the baby's neck, he said. He "ripped her off him" and the baby was "red" and "screaming".
His partner grabbed the baby off Stephens and rang Stephens' mother to come and pick the baby up, he said.
In cross-examination, Crown prosecutor Anna McConachy asked why Grey had not told police about this incident when he made a statement in 2018, to which he had no response.
She questioned him about an incident during those six weeks in which Roberts had "burned up" his driveway yelling at Stephens to come outside, and he said he did remember it and had a chat with Roberts about driving like that with children around.
He agreed Stephens had said she was "scared" of Roberts.
Waimania Paul-Ruhi, a partner of one of Roberts' friends, told the court she had been with Roberts drinking and playing the pokies on November 29 - the night before Karlos died.
She moved to a Meadowbank Cres address with her partner Steven Eparapa - also known as Tilly - in November 2014, after previously living at Roberts' Alison St address, she said.
She said that on November 29, Tilly, Roberts and herself had been drinking at their house after 6pm. They left briefly to get some money and went back home, before the three of them headed into town around midnight.
She said they had gone to a bar and played the pokies until about 3am. They left and Roberts dropped the couple home.
She did not know where Roberts went after that but next heard from him when her partner got a text saying that Karlos was dead. She had gone to the hospital that morning.
This version of events was different to the Crown's case which alleged Roberts had picked up Karlos and his twin brother from Stephens that evening after 8pm.
In cross-examination, Crown prosecutor Amanda Gordon said recalling events from that time was difficult, to which Paul-Ruhi said the little things were.
Gordon questioned why she did not think it was important to tell police at the time that they had been with Roberts the night before, and she said they had not been asked and she had thought the baby had died from an illness or virus.
The final defence witness, Sarah Easthope-Wilson, who is a senior social worker for Child, Youth and Family, now known as Oranga Tamariki, had visited Roberts when he had the care of the twin boys.
In 2014, an investigation had been launched into tracking down Karlos and his twin brother, she said.
She remembered turning up on Roberts' Alison St doorstep and finding healthy and beautiful twin boys who had a "strong bond" with Roberts.
She described the boys' mother Pamela Stephens as "evasive" and said that there were "neglect" concerns about her with the twins.
She made random visits to his property and said she had "no concerns" about the care nor the Alison St property that Roberts was raising them in.
The witness will return to the stand tomorrow morning.
The trial continues.