VERDICT IN: Thornton found guilty in infant murder trial

FOUND GUILTY of 2nd degree murder: Grady Thornton, 22 (Courtesy: Shreveport Police Department)
FOUND GUILTY of 2nd degree murder: Grady Thornton, 22 (Courtesy: Shreveport Police Department)
Terrell Thornton (Courtesy: Ursula Brantley)
Terrell Thornton (Courtesy: Ursula Brantley)
Terrell Thornton (Courtesy: Ursula Brantley)
Terrell Thornton (Courtesy: Ursula Brantley)

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Grady Earl Thornton was found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of a his infant son Wednesday evening.

A jury found Thornton, 22, guilty of causing the death of the three-month-old Terrell Thornton in July of 2008. Caddo District Attorney's Office Spokesperson Pat Culverhouse says an eight man, four woman Caddo Parish jury deliberated only 30 minutes before returning the unanimous verdict.

Thornton reportedly admitted to hitting the child because he was crying. When the infant was brought to Willis Knighton South,on the night of his death, he was not breathing.

The medical examiner determined that the infant died as a result of a skull fracture.

Thornton never took the stand, and his attorneys never called any witnesses.

Prosecutors did, however. Jurors watched three videos showing the interviews conducted by violent crimes detectives who interviewed Thornton following the child's death.

Detectives on the stand testified that they came back after their first interview with Thornton and told him that the autopsy showed injuries that were not consistent with what Thornton had told them. At that point, investigators say their suspect admitted to holding the child by the head, like a basketball, and squeezed until he stopped crying.

The autopsy indicates the location of the fracture in the baby's skull is consistent with where Thornton's thumb would have been.  In the recorded interviews, Thornton admits to trying to wake the baby up and shaking him hard.  The autopsy showed the child also had six broken ribs in addition to the fracture in his skull.

Violent crimes detectives also say they found what appears to be a blood stain on the baby's bassinet.

Wednesday morning, the first officer called to the scene took the stand. SPD Cpl. Ron Debello was called to WK South after the little boy was brought to the hospital not breathing.

Testifying to the unusual nature of that call, Cpl. Debello said, "Normally we respond to a call of a traffic accident, maybe a burglary, but a call about a 3 months old child, almost dead, that definitely wasn't a normal call."

Testimony wrapped up Wednesday afternoon with the medical examiner, who says he believes there would have had to have been even more force applied to the baby's skull than he admitted to investigators, and that the injuries the baby suffered were very clearly not accidental.

Terrell Thornton's mother, Ursula Brattle, was listed as a potential witness, but was never called to the stand.

Judge Scott Crichton set a sentencing date for Monday, February 13th at 2 p.m. for Thornton. Second degree murder carries a sentence of life in prison at hard labor without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.

Caddo Parish Assistant District Attorneys Geya Prudhomme and Jordan Bird prosecuted the case and David McClatchey was the attorney for the defense.

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