The Edmond Sun

Local News

February 2, 2013

Sides rest in Edmond child murder trial

EDMOND — Rico Berry, who is facing a first-degree murder charge in the death of an Edmond toddler, will not testify in his trial.

Tuesday afternoon during his opening statement, defense attorney Mark McCormick said the jury would hear from his client. Since then, the 8-woman, 4-man jury has heard three full days of testimony from a series of witnesses for the state.

In October 2009, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater charged Berry, 28, with first degree murder in the death of Jolen Babakhani, 2, of Edmond. Prosecutors allege that Berry caused injuries to the toddler’s brain, eyes and body, inflicting mortal wounds that caused his death.

Friday afternoon, after the defense did not challenge the state’s last two witnesses — the primary Edmond detective assigned to the case and a pediatric specialist — the state rested.

During the ensuing moments, McCormick and co-defense counsel James Hughes huddled behind the defense table, where Berry was sitting, wearing a dress shirt and tie as he has every day.

After the jury was sent out of the courtroom, Oklahoma County District Judge Glenn Jones asked Berry to approach the bench. He was joined by his attorneys and the prosecutors, Assistant District Attorney Gayland Gieger and ADA Susanne Carlson.

Jones, who had heard of Berry’s decision to not testify from Hughes, asked the defendant several questions to ensure that he made the decision by his own free will. Berry said he did.

The jury was brought back into the courtroom and Hughes said the defense rested. The defense called no witnesses on Berry’s behalf.

The development occurred between 4:30-5 p.m. Jones told the jurors he would have instructions for the jury ready when court resumed at about 10 a.m. Monday. Closing statements would then begin. Jones urged jurors to prepare for a potential long day on Monday, when they will begin deliberations.

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