A 20-year-old woman received an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole Wednesday after an East Texas jury convicted her of capital murder in the sexual assault and beating death of her infant daughter, the Associated Press reports:
A Rusk County jury found Jessica Carson guilty of capital murder in the December 2008 death of her 13-month-old daughter, Amora. Carson’s boyfriend, Blaine Milam, is on death row after his conviction for capital murder in the death, which Carson believed was an exorcism.
Prosecutors didn’t seek a death sentence for Carson. In closing arguments Wednesday, special prosecutor Lisa Tanner said that although Milam was the one who beat the child with a hammer and bit her about 30 times, Carson promoted, aided or tried to aid the crime. […]
Defense attorneys contended Milam dominated Carson and convinced her that her child was possessed by a demon. However, Tanner said the exorcism was Carson’s idea, rather than the product of brainwashing by Milam.
The jury foreman in a capital murder trial involving the brutal beating death of a 13-month-old described the experience as “the worst two weeks of my life.” […]
Ms. Carson’s conviction came after attorneys made their closing arguments.
At least two Rusk County jurors wiped their eyes while Texas Attorney General Prosecutor Lisa Tanner described how Ms. Carson “sacrificed her daughter to a monster.”
She told the jury she was sorry they have had to sit through the evidence, but there was no way they would have seen why Ms. Carson was guilty if prosecutors didn’t show the horror. […]
Ms. Tanner said Milam inflicted the injuries on Amora, but Ms. Carson is just as responsible because she was a party in the crime.
She said the case is about capital murder and boils down to one question: “Did she (Ms. Carson) know he was going to hurt Amora or did she know he was hurting Amora?”
Even if jurors never heard testimony or interview statements from Ms. Carson, she said, there was “more than sufficient evidence” to convict her as a party.
Ms. Tanner also noted that Ms. Carson lied to law enforcement officials and the 911 operator, which she said shows evidence of guilt beyond being a mere bystander. She said Amora had been dead a long time when help arrived, which is different from what she relayed, and she was seen giving Milam a kiss after Amora’s death.
She also said the crux of the case is that Amora’s death was not immediate.
Ms. Tanner also said that having an exorcism for Amora and coming up with a cover story were Ms. Carson’s ideas, based on her interview with former Texas Ranger Kenny Ray. She also said Ms. Carson was with Milam when he pleaded guilty to an unrelated charge and was told he had to register as a sex offender.
Ms. Carson told officials she saw Amora in the midst of the exorcisms, Ms. Tanner said, noting Amora was killed in a small trailer, where it would have been easy to hear what was happening.
“There is no way objectively speaking she didn’t know (what was going on),” she said. […]
Killingsworth also made closing arguments, telling jurors he was sorry for photos they had to see in the case.
He talked about Ms. Carson meeting Milam, who she thought was “her prince charming.”
He told jurors they heard testimony that Milam was never anything but a loving father to Amora.
He said Milam, a “suspicious and controlling person,” started to treat Ms. Carson badly and that evidence shows Milam used the couple’s Ouija board to strengthen his control on Ms. Carson.
Killingsworth said in December 2008, Milam convinced Ms. Carson that Amora had a demon in her.
Ms. Carson has said she thought Milam was helping her baby and that he would never hurt Amora.