The Edmond Sun

Local News

February 4, 2013

Guilty verdict in child murder case

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY — CLOSING STATEMENTS

At about 11 a.m. Judge Jones read the court’s instructions to the jury, agreed upon with several objections by the defense.

Then Carlson addressed the jury. Since the state has the burden of proof, a prosecutor goes first, followed by the defense and then the prosecution argues again. Carlson described the anguish of a mother who was in the stage of life when she would be teaching a nursery rhyme to her child. Sara Babakhani thought she had a lifetime to spend with Jolen, Carlson said. She never dreamed her son would not grow up and live a full life, she said.

Berry abused Jolen and he died as a result, Carlson said. The toddler may not be here in person to say Rico hurt me, but the injuries to Jolen’s body tell you all you need to know about who killed him, she said to the jury.

“This is not a case of whodunnit, ladies and gentlemen,” she said.

Carlson took the jurors through some of the evidence, which included graphic hospital and autopsy photographs of the injuries to Jolen’s head, neck, back and brain. She mentioned elements the state had to prove which had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, she said.

She referred to two spots of blood on two different walls in the apartment. A DNA expert said they were Jolen’s blood. She mentioned first responders who testified they saw blood in Jolen’s mouth, which meant he was bleeding internally.

Through the forensic evidence, Carlson said, “Jolen Babakhani can still tell you today that unreasonable force was used against him.”

Hughes argued that Sara trusted Berry enough with her son to let him move in with them. Hughes tried to poke holes in the blood found in the apartment, implying that not all of it was Jolen’s.

He sought to raise doubt by repeating his theory that some of the bruises on Jolen’s back could have been due to earlier falls and the force of CPR chest compressions on a parking lot; Gieger argued there should have been bruises on Jolen’s chest if that was the case. Hughes also mentioned multiple times Jolen fell.

“It was an accident,” Hughes said of Jolen’s death.

He urged the jury to send Berry home. Berry was playing with Jolen and something terrible happened under his watch, Hughes said. The acts were not murder, not child abuse, he said.

Gieger defended the first responders who were trying to save the child’s life while Berry was emotionless. Gieger said the defendant never offered to render aid to Jolen and only began to tell limited truth when he was pressed over and over again by the detectives.

marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 108

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