"Full-time caretaker" dad JERRY CRISP has been found guilty of felony murder in the death of his 10-week-old daughter. Prosecutors say he was "frustrated" and beat and shook the baby.
Web Posted: 09/01/2009 12:00 CDT
Dad guilty in death of baby daughter
By Craig Kapitan - Express-News
A father once targeted by prosecutors for lethal injection was found guilty Monday of causing the death of his infant daughter, but Jerry Crisp won't go to death row for capital murder or even spend life in prison without the possibility of parole.
After seven hours of deliberation, jurors instead found Crisp guilty of felony murder — an offense that differs from capital murder in that his punishment now ranges from five years to life in prison. If given life, the 25-year-old would be eligible for parole after 30 years.
The sentencing phase of his trial is expected to begin this morning in the 144th District Courtroom.
Monday's verdict marked the second time jurors were asked to weigh Crisp's culpability in the April 25, 2005, death of his 10-week-old daughter, Jayden.
His first capital murder trial, in April 2008, was derailed after the jury remained deadlocked after three days of deliberation. Prosecutors sought the death penalty then but had abandoned the endeavor before the current trial. Still, they sought only life without parole until Monday morning, when the lesser-included murder charge was added.
Prosecutors have alleged that Crisp beat the infant to death out of frustration. His attorney countered that he is guilty only of being a young, inexperienced father who didn't think to seek medical attention after his daughter fell from the changing table.
“(Crisp) admitted he was frustrated,” said Assistant District Attorney Chris DeMartino. “He admitted he couldn't get this baby quiet. He admitted that he grabbed her, that he held her tightly, that he squeezed her, that he shook her two times.”
DeMartino speculated that jurors may feel some sympathy for Crisp, who didn't testify during the trial but cried during lengthy interviews with police. Remorse doesn't excuse his action that day, the prosecutor said.
Defense attorney Tony Cantrell described his client as a “simple” person who was manipulated by investigators into making statements that weren't true. Despite that, Cantrell said, Crisp told investigators all along that the baby's death was caused by the fall.
“It makes no sense whatsoever that Jerry would do anything to hurt that baby,” he said, describing his client as a loving father who served as the child's full-time caregiver. “Accidents happen. Babies die — they do for numerous reasons.”
As with the previous trial, the crux of Crisp's defense was the testimony Friday from a pathologist who said the infant could have sustained the injuries from a low-impact fall from the changing table.
The testimony was in direct contradiction to that of Deputy Bexar County Medical Examiner Kimberly Molina, who said with certainty that the injuries were too widespread and severe to be the result of such a short fall.