JURORS in an American woman’s third trial have found her guilty of burning her baby daughter to death in a microwave oven.
China Arnold, 31, was convicted of aggravated murder in the death of 28-day-old Paris Talley in August 2005. Arnold could receive the death penalty. The sentencing phase will begin on Monday next week. Arnold’s first trial ended in a mistrial.
She was found guilty in the second trial, but that conviction was reversed last year. An appeals court found there was misconduct by prosecutors and the trial court made an error by not allowing a material witness to testify in Arnold’s defence.
Prosecutors have said Arnold intentionally put the baby in the microwave after a fight with her boyfriend. The defence had argued someone else was responsible.
Medical experts testified that the baby died after her temperature reached about 42 degrees Celsius and she probably was in the microwave for more than two minutes, dying quickly afterward. “She died because she was overheated,” said Dr Marcella Fierro, retired chief medical examiner for Virginia. “She was cooked.”‘
Messages seeking comment from the prosecutor and defence lawyer were left at their offices, but a gag order in the case prevents anyone connected to it from commenting outside court.
Assistant Prosecutor Dan Brandt told jurors in court Arnold’s actions were “even more purposeful” than a slaying with a gun or knife, the Dayton Daily News reported.
“Baby Paris is without life, but she’s not without a voice,” Mr Brandt told jurors in closing arguments. “Please listen to her.” Mr Brandt said Arnold had to carry the baby over, place her in the microwave, shut the door and press buttons. Then she waited while her child cooked to death, Mr Brandt said.
Defence lawyer Jon Paul Rion argued the evidence pointed as much to Terrell Talley, the baby’s father, as it did Arnold. “This doesn’t make sense to you,” Mr Rion told jurors. “It doesn’t. I’ve been watching your faces.”
The prosecutor cut and fit evidence to show “this loving mother somehow was so evil that she killed her baby in this way”, he said.