MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – A clearly distraught Marquess Cordell Caldwell can be heard fighting back tears as he talks to a police officer after his then-girlfriend’s baby died in May 2018.
“I hurt my baby,” he said off camera in police body camera footage played for the jury in Caldwell’s capital murder trial.
Prosecutors used their opening statement to portray the defendant as a violent man who severely beat 4-month-old Kendrick Cole and then tried to cover it up. Mobile County Assistant District Attorney Louis Walker told jurors that the defendants beat the child on May 3, 2018, at the Azalea Point Apartments while the baby’s mother was at work.
Caldwell, 29, did not seek medical treatment, Walker said. He added that it wasn’t until three days later that the boy was taken to Providence Hospital. He said the child died in a helicopter that took him to the University of South Alabama Hospital.
“Caldwell punched him, repeatedly punched the 4-month-old child and slammed him against the footboard of a bed multiple times,” Walker said.
Defense attorney Bucky Thomas said in his opening statement that his client is not “the sadistic killer the state is trying to get you to believe,” but a man suffering from schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder caused by a robbery. and shooting in 2014. He said prosecutors will not be able to meet their burden of proof that Caldwell intended to kill the baby.
“There will be no evidence presented to you that he woke up and decided, ‘I’m going to kill the kid,'” he said.
Thomas told jurors to scrutinize his client’s demeanor closely as they watch a video of the police investigation.
“He’s frantic when he talks to detectives,” he said.
At one point, Thomas said, Caldwell told investigators: “The demons were chasing me.”
After a week, prosecutors and defense attorneys on Monday finally agreed on a jury to hear the first death penalty case in Mobile County since the COVID-19 pandemic. The jury of nine men and seven women includes four alternatives.
Walker told jurors they will hear evidence that Kendrick’s older brother, Kendall, was also abused.
Walker said jailers will see a text message Caldwell sent the boys’ mother telling her Kendrick fell off the bed and hit his head. The defendant gave police a similar version of the events of May 3, 2018, saying Kendall pushed his brother off the bed.
Walker later said Caldwell changed his story and confessed. An autopsy revealed that the baby suffered a fractured skull, the prosecutor said.
“He was beaten repeatedly by a grown man,” he said. “The defendant repeatedly smashed him against the floorboards of a bed.”
Testimony resumes on Tuesday.
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