Jurors in a woman’s third trial found her guilty on Friday of killing her baby daughter by cooking her in a microwave oven.
China Arnold was convicted of aggravated murder in the death of 28-day-old Paris Talley in August 2005. Arnold could receive the death penalty because Ohio is a death penalty state. The sentencing phase will begin tomorrow.
Arnold’s first trial ended in a mistrial. She was found guilty in the second trial, but that conviction was reversed last fall. An appeals court found there was misconduct by prosecutors and that the trial court made an error by not allowing a material witness to testify in Arnold’s defense.
Prosecutors have said Arnold, 31, intentionally put the baby in the microwave after a fight with her boyfriend. The defense had argued that someone else was responsible.
Medical experts testified that the baby died after her temperature reached 42?C and that she probably was in the microwave for more than two minutes, dying quickly afterward.
“She died because she was overheated,” said Marcella Fierro, retired chief medical examiner for Virginia. “She was cooked.”
Messages seeking comment from the prosecutor and defense attorney 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 that 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,” Brandt told jurors in closing arguments. “Please listen to her.”
Brandt said that 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, Brandt said.
Defense attorney Jon Paul Rion argued that the evidence pointed as much to Terrell Talley, the baby’s father, as it did Arnold.
Rion said Talley’s testimony that Arnold said: “I killed my baby” left out important context: She only meant that she failed as a mother by allowing the crime to happen and not that she killed her child.
The defense attorney also said that Talley’s sneakers were stained with a bodily substance that should have been tested.
Arnold was also very intoxicated, Rion said.
“No mother is going to do this, in this way,” Rion said. “China Arnold is innocent of these charges.” Brandt said that Arnold admitted to police that the baby woke her up and that she was alone, beside her other sleeping children. There were also no signs of a break-in, he said.
Talley testified Arnold was drunk, but not so drunk that she would not know what happened. He said she told him the baby would still be alive if he hadn’t been unfaithful to her.