The Edmond Sun

Local News

February 4, 2013

Guilty verdict in child murder case

OKLAHOMA CITY — A jury has recommended the maximum sentence for the defendant who stood trial in the death of an Edmond toddler.

At about 3:40 p.m. Monday, the 8-woman, 4-man jury announced they had reached a verdict. They had received the case from Oklahoma County District Judge Glenn Jones at about 1:05 p.m. when closing statements ended.

The defendant, Rico Antwoine Berry, 28, entered the courtroom wearing a dress shirt and tie; he would later leave wearing handcuffs and with the knowledge he had been found guilty on charges of first-degree murder and child neglect.

Regarding the first-degree murder charge, the jury recommended the maximum sentence — life without parole; the other option was life. They also chose the maximum sentence on the child neglect charge — life; the other option was up to one year in jail.

Formal sentencing will be on Feb. 22.

After the reading of the verdict, Sara Babakhani, the mother of Jolen Babakhani, who died when he was 2 years 8 months old, was outside the courtroom in the hall being comforted by family members.

Jurors were not talking. Neither was lead defense attorney James Hughes. Before the reading of the verdict, Hughes and fellow co-defense council Mark McCormick sat with somber expressions at the table with Berry.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Gayland Gieger and ADA Susanne Carlson. Following the end of proceedings, Gieger spoke with reporters.

“Obviously we’re happy with the jury’s deliberations and decisions in this case,” Gieger said. “The trial went on for six days and there was a lot of medical evidence for this jury that was presented. Luckily they were able to listen to the evidence in an intelligent light.”

Gieger said quantifying or doing justice after a child’s life was taken away is a vexing issue, but in this case the defendant is being held accountable for his actions.

Perhaps part of what influenced the decision was the defendant’s initial disregard for the child and then his failure to render aid, Gieger said.

In a video of Berry’s interview with the Edmond detectives they were able to get him to give some explanation about what happened in the unit at the Rolling Green apartment complex on Oct. 13, 2009. The jury was able to hear the defendant’s changing stories, Gieger said.

“I still don’t believe that we heard the whole truth from Mr. Berry,” he said.

As his story changed, Berry became more and more culpable, Gieger said. In cases like this, children don’t suffer horrific injuries absent some type of verifiable accident like a car wreck, he said.

Berry was expected to testify but did not. The defense did not call a single witness.

Edmond Police Detective Michael Chesley was the lead investigator on the case. Chesley said he is pleased with the decision that the jury made. It was a long six days, but jurors used their common sense to weigh the evidence that was presented to them, he said.

“They made the right decision,” he said.

The prosecutors managed the trial well, and the defense could not refute the state’s evidence, Chesley said. He said Jolen’s family members will likely always have thoughts about what happened to the toddler in the back of their minds.

“I hope this helps them a little bit,” he said.

Text Only
Local News
  • Boston 1 Arcadia man, 80, prepares for 111th marathon

    A year ago, Arcadia resident Tom Briggs was well into the Boston Marathon course when he heard runners nearby talking about an incident up ahead.

    April 19, 2014 3 Photos

  • Anne Josette Hill Police seek teen last seen in Edmond-north OKC area

    The family of a missing teenage girl made a plea to the public Friday to help them find the Casady honors student.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • 4-19 Calendar

    For information about Edmond senior programs, stop by and pick up a monthly calendar, check out the website at or call 216-7600. Lunch is served at 11:30 a.m. and reservations are needed a day in advance by 11 a.m. For lunch reservations, call 330-6293 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    April 19, 2014

  • UCO plans Earth Day Fair

    The University of Central Oklahoma invites the community to celebrate sustainability with its Earth Day Fair from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 22 in locations throughout Central’s campus.
    The fair kicks off at 10 a.m. around Broncho Lake with exhibitions from local businesses, state agencies and student organizations. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn about its environmental mission and message.

    April 19, 2014

  • UCO School of Music closes semester with concert series

    The University of Central Oklahoma School of Music will wrap up its instrumental performance season with three concerts featuring Central students April 29 through May 1 at Mitchell Hall Theater located on the UCO campus.    

    April 19, 2014

  • Fine Arts 1 Auction benefits Fine Arts Institute

    The Spring Sampler dinner and auction event April 12 at Oak Tree Country Club benefitted the Fine Arts Institute of Edmond.

    April 18, 2014 4 Photos

  • Kaiser joins Thunder ownership group

    Tulsa businessman George B. Kaiser has been approved by the NBA Board of Governors as a new partner in The Professional Basketball Club LLC, which owns the Oklahoma City Thunder. Thunder Chairman and CEO Clayton I. Bennett made the announcement Friday. Kaiser is purchasing the ownership interest of Tom L. Ward.
    “We are honored to welcome George Kaiser as a member of the ownership group of the Oklahoma City Thunder,” Bennett said. “George is a well-respected and important Oklahoma business leader, as well as one of the state and nation’s top philanthropists. His commitment to successful business and community leadership is in true alignment with that of the Thunder.
    “I also appreciate the commitment and leadership provided by Tom Ward as a member of our ownership group from the beginning,” Bennett added.

    April 18, 2014

  • Literally, books come to life for club

    When some of the women at Touchmark at Coffee Creek got together to form a book club, they didn’t know it would be so much fun and become such an important part of their lives.
    The group of about a dozen residents gets together monthly to not only discuss the assigned novel, memoir or classic, but also to immerse themselves in the setting and culture of the book. There is no limit to their creativity.

    April 18, 2014

  • pink.jpg Local children win Edmond Sun Easter coloring contest

    Two local children were named winners of The Edmond Sun’s Easter coloring contest. At left, Madsion Porter, 4, daughter of Tracy Porter, won a princess Easter basket, which included a tiara, tea set, stuffed bunny rabbit and chocolate rabbit. At right, BriAnna Harbaugh, 9, daughter of Leslie Haubaugh, won a Hello Kitty Easter basket, containing art supplies, a Hello Kitty stuffed animal and a chocolate bunny.  The families also received a three-month subscription to The Edmond Sun. For your own subscription to The Edmond Sun, visit, call 341-2121, or visit 123 S. Broadway.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • jc_HarveySparks.jpg Pastor seeks congressional seat

    Working in the Congressional 1st District office of Congressman Jim Bridenstine was an eye opener for Harvey Sparks, he said. His analytical exposure to Congress has sparked his drive to run for the Congressional 5th District of Oklahoma, said Sparks, R-Oklahoma City.
    Sparks has been a pastor for the majority of his professional life. Sixteen months ago, he was asked by 1st District Congressman Jim Bridenstine to come work in his Washington, D.C., office. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three daughters and a son, ages 10-3.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
NDN Video
Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station My name is Cocaine Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy Funny: Celebrating Easter with Martha Stewart and Friends Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Man hit with $525 federal fine after he doesn't pay for soda refill Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper New West, Texas Explosion Video Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday Don't Be A Tattletale: Bad Bullying Tips For Students The trillest thoughts on marijuana "RHOA" Star Charged With Battery Grizzly Bears Get Snowy Birthday Party Weatherman draws forecast when another technical glitch strikes WGN

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

     View Results