A defendant who was the only adult at home when his 16-month-old daughter suffered several blows fracturing her skull and damaging her internal organs cannot overturn his conviction of first-degree murder on a claim that no rational fact finder could find that he premeditated his child’s murder or caused her fatal injuries; the Court of Appeals upholds his convictions of murder and felony child abuse.
Circumstantial factors related to the killing itself, including the brutality of the attack and whether more than one blow was struck and the disparity in size and strength between the defendant and the victim can support a reasonable inference of premeditation. A fact finder also may infer the accused’s premeditation from conduct after the killing, including efforts to conceal the body, lack of remorse and efforts to avoid detection.
The evidence here shows that the child’s murder was especially brutal. Both testifying physicians agreed she was struck at least four times to cause her skull fractures and internal injuries. The blows that fractured her occipital bone and destroyed her liver must have been particularly severe. A fact finder reasonably could infer from the scope and degree of the injuries suffered by the toddler that defendant intended to kill the child when he beat her. The infliction of multiple blows and the size disparity between defendant and his 16-month-old daughter could further support that inference.
Defendant did nothing to help the child while she was still alive. Because her limbs had already cooled by the time paramedics arrived, she must have been dead when her siblings found her. The doctors’ testimony indicates the toddler was deceased when defendant and others attempted to revive her. Defendant was the only person with the child prior to the other children’s discovery of her body. Defendant’s failure to seek help for the child reasonably supports a finding that he attempted to conceal his crime and avoid its consequences. A fact finder could have found that defendant lacked remorse for his crime from his demeanor at the crime scene.
Medical testimony and evidence as to the child’s condition earlier in the day tended to refute defendant’s theory that the children might have fatally wounded the child through earlier play fighting or by jumping on her bed. The evidence was sufficient to prove defendant caused the injuries underlying his child abuse conviction.
Logan v. Commonwealth (Malveaux) No. 0867-15-1, Nov. 1, 2016; Chesapeake Cir.Ct. (Arrington) David L. Jones, Sr. APD, for appellant; Robert H. Anderson III, Sr. AAG, for appellee. VLW 016-7- 257(UP), 11 pp.