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
  • MS_Keifer.jpg Police seek help in finding Edmond youth

    Edmond Police Department Spokeswoman Jenny Monroe said the agency needs the public’s help finding 16-year-old Keifer McMullin.
    Monroe said he ran away from home July 17.
    “This is not the first time, but the longest he’s been gone,” Monroe said.
    Monroe said Keifer was last seen wearing white-colored Nike tennis shoes, blue jeans, a red shirt and had a black, heavy coat. If you know where he is located call 911 or text a tip at 625-TEXT.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Judge sends Edmond teen to next step in federal case

    A federal judge has ordered a detention hearing for an Edmond teen charged with making alleged illicit sexual contact with residents ages 4-9 while he was staying at a children’s home in Kenya.  
    Last month, the office of U.S. Attorney Sanford Coats unsealed a criminal complaint charging Matthew Lane Durham, 19, of Edmond, with traveling to Kenya to engage in illicit sexual conduct with underage children, both male and female, from April to June.

    August 1, 2014

  • Election board absentee voting deadline nears

    Voters who want to have absentee ballots mailed to them for the runoff primary election Aug. 26 should apply now. Although the County Election Board can accept applications for absentee ballots until 5 p.m. Aug. 20, voters who want to vote by absentee ballot are urged to apply early.
    Absentee ballot application forms are available at the County Election Board office, located at 4201 N. Lincoln Blvd. in Oklahoma City.

    August 1, 2014

  • spts-Weber St. Anthony Morales.jpg Bulldog grad a Carolina Panther

    Former Edmond Memorial linebacker Anthony Morales is not going to attend school this fall at Weber State University.
    Instead, he signed an NFL contract with the Carolina Panthers Thursday morning.
    “I’m on the 90-man roster and I've got to make the cut, so I’ll be in the preseason games and then after the third one, they do the cut to 55 and then after the last game, they go down to 53,” Morales said. “(The Panthers)” have 10 linebackers, including myself.”

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Edmond Santa Fe hosting Punt, Pass & Kick competition

    Young pro football fans will have the opportunity to exhibit their football skills when the Edmond Santa Fe Touchdown Club hosts an NFL Punt, Pass & Kick competition Saturday, Aug. 16 at the Edmond Santa Fe Football Stadium, 1901 N.W. 15th St. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. with the competition kicking off an hour later. Punt, Pass & Kick is free and open to boys and girls ages 6-15. Entry forms and rules are available online at NFLPPK.com. For competition information, contact Kelly Kay at kkay@ymcaokc.org.

    August 1, 2014

  • pm_eagle scout John Giachino .JPG Scout earns Eagle rank

    John Bernard Giachino, 16, of Edmond, was awarded his Eagle Scout rank March 26. He is a member of Venture Crew 2021 chartered by St. John the Baptist in Edmond. John is the son of Phillip and LaDonna Giachino, grandson of Linda and the late John Giachino of Oklahoma City and Fred and Joanne Horinek of Newkirk.
    John’s Eagle Scout service project was designing and building a gaga pit for Camp Dakani in Oklahoma City for future Boy Scouts of America to play and enjoy for years to come.
    John will be a junior at Bishop McGuinness High School, where he is a member of the golf team and National Honor Society. He attends St. John the Baptist Church and participates in Life Teen. John recently visited Peru on a mission trip.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • State Education Department looking to develop new academic standards

    The Oklahoma State Department of Education is encouraging Oklahoma educators, parents and others interested in public education to consider taking part in the development of new academic standards for English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. Coordinated by OSDE, the standards-creation process is designed to be as inclusive and comprehensive as possible.

    August 1, 2014

  • MS_fire chief.jpg Edmond fire chief resigns amid internal review

    Embattled Edmond Fire Chief Jake Rhoades, in a letter sent to the media, stated he is resigning out of necessity for his health and the best interests of his family.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • 1,000th baby group.jpg INTEGRIS welcomes 1,000th birth since opening in October 2011

    Being the father of a new baby boy is pretty exciting, but being the father of INTEGRIS Health Edmond’s 1,000th baby made it even more special.
    “When we got to the hospital, the night-shift nurse told us we were in a race with another couple who had gotten there at 7 a.m.,” said Bryan Lane, the new baby’s father.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • okco fair 100.jpg Oklahoma County Free Fair offers competition, free fun

    Oklahoma County residents are invited to compete in the 100th annual Oklahoma County Free Fair as they take part in many activities scheduled just for them.
    The county fair will get underway Aug. 21-23 at the Oklahoma State Fair Park and will be highlighted by its open adult and youth along with 4-H and Oklahoma Home and Community Education categories, as well as its special contest and activities.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
NDN Video
Under Armour Launches Biggest Women's Campaign with Inspiring Ad NYPD chokehold death of Eric Garner was homicide: medical examiner Christina Aguilera Pulls a Demi Moore! Man with no arms throws first pitch Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Is Justin Bieber Dating a Model? Guardians of the Galaxy (Trailer) 'Sharknado 2:' Hottest Memes Surfing The Net Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Recapping a Blockbuster MLB Trade Deadline Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2"
Poll

The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
Undecided
     View Results