MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – Distraught Markeise Kardell Caldwell could be heard fighting back tears as she spoke with police after the death of her girlfriend’s baby in May 2018.
“I hurt my baby,” she said off camera in a police body camera video played for the jury in Caldwell’s capital murder trial.
Prosecutors used their opening statements to describe the defendant as a violent man who beat 4-month-old Kendrick Cole and tried to cover it up. Mobile County Assistant District Attorney Louis Walker told jurors that the defendant assaulted the child on May 3, 2018, at Azalea Point Apartments while the child’s mother was at work.
Caldwell, 29, did not seek 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’s University Hospital.
“Caldwell grabbed her, repeatedly hit the 4-month-old and kicked her off the couch multiple times,” Walker said.
Defense attorney Bucky Thomas argued in his opening statement that his client was not “this murderer that the state is trying to make you believe” but a man with pain. schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the 2014 robbery and shooting. He said prosecutors will not be able to meet their burden of proving that Caldwell intended to kill the child.
“He’s not going to have any evidence to tell you that he woke up and decided, ‘I’m going to kill that kid,'” he said.
Thomas asked jurors to observe his client’s demeanor as they watched the video of the police interrogation.
“He was scared when he talked to the detectives,” he said.
At one point, Thomas said, Caldwell told investigators: “The ghosts are chasing me.”
After a week, prosecutors and defense attorneys on Monday finally agreed for a jury to hear the first criminal case in Mobile County since the COVID- 19 spread all over the world. The jury of nine men and seven women included four contestants.
Walker told jurors they will hear evidence that Kendrick’s older brother, Kendall, was also abused.
Walker said investigators will see text messages Caldwell sent the boys’ mother telling her that Kendrick had fallen off the bed and hit his head. The defendant gave the police a similar incident on May 3, 2018, telling them that Kendall had pushed his brother out of bed.
Later, Walker said, Caldwell changed his story and confessed. An autopsy revealed the child suffered a skull fracture, the prosecutor said.
“He was beaten by an older man,” he said. “The defendant hit her several times against the bed on the floor.”
Testimony resumes on Tuesday.
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