FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Since she was 16, Pauline Zile has spent most of her time pregnant, raising children and working -- sometimes two waitressing jobs at a time -- and trying to please her husband, John Zile.
"I just think that Pauline is just a weak female," longtime friend Cynthia Larcher told state investigators in February. Her friend is the type to go along rather than resist, even if it meant the death of her child, Ms. Larcher said.
"I mean it takes something to stand up against what you don't want to do, and if you're not sure and you're wrapped up in it, then that's the way to exist. That's what you're doing," Ms. Larcher said in her sworn statement.
Today, Ms. Zile was scheduled to go on trial on charges of first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse in the death of her daughter, Christina Holt, 7. Her husband, John Zile, is to be tried separately, later. The Ziles moved to Florida from Maryland a few years ago.
Prosecutors say Pauline Zile, 24, is just as responsible as her husband for her daughter's death because they say she did nothing as the life was beaten out of her daughter. Christina fell into a seizure and collapsed on the floor during the beating, John Zile told police. The couple tried to cover up the child's death by concocting a hoax that the little girl was abducted in a restroom at a Broward County, Fla., flea market.
Ms. Larcher described her friend as a mere shadow of her husband, without a will of her own or even any dreams or desires that were just hers.
"All she wanted to do was keep having babies with him," Ms. Larcher said. "You know, I mean, she was into it."
Since November, Pauline Zile has been in the Palm Beach County Jail. In that time, she appears to have shed the passivity that defined her.
Instead of the meek mother described by Ms. Larcher and other friends, jail records show a different Pauline Zile -- a woman who now knows what she wants and is willing to express it.
In jail, she has asked for a mirror to maintain her appearance, a roommate to ease her loneliness, an opportunity to get her high school diploma and medical attention for a lump in her body.
In December, Ms. Zile wrote that a month of being confined alone was getting to her, even if it was for her safety.
She asked to room with Clover Boykin, 19, another woman kept isolated as protection from other inmates. Ms. Boykin is accused of killing two babies, including her 5-month-old son. Ms. Boykin is also accused of killing Kayla Bassante, age 9 months, while the child's babysitter.
"Being alone 24 hours a day is not doing either one of us any good whatsoever . . . " Ms. Zile wrote her jailer. She got her wish in December and now Ms. Boykin and Ms. Zile are cellmates.
Pauline Zile now blames her husband for what has become of her life and the lives of the three children she bore. Her first born child from a previous marriage, Christina Holt, 7, is dead. The Ziles' two sons, Chad and Daniel, 3 and 5, are in foster care. A fourth child was given up for adoption shortly before her indictment in November. She says her husband forced her to abort a fifth child.