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Archive for Tuesday, October 4, 1994

MURDER TRIAL JURY MULLS VERDICT

October 4, 1994

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The wait continued this morning for a verdict in the trial of a Lawrence man charged with shaking his infant son to death last February.

Defendant Steven Edwards appeared only briefly in the courtroom this morning as District Judge Ralph King Jr. sent the seven men and five women back to begin their second day of deliberation.

The jury met behind closed doors for 4 1/2 hours Monday and resumed deliberations at 9 a.m. today. As of late this morning they had taken no breaks and remained in seclusion.

The jury is trying to decide whether Edwards, 25, is guilty of felony murder and child abuse in the Feb. 10 death of his 21-day-old son, Brandon.

Another option jurors can consider is whether Edwards' action constituted only a misdemeanor battery of the child, not child abuse.

The jury is considering testimony from 25 witnesses and 24 pieces of physical evidence. Among that evidence is a videotape a doctor at Children's Mercy Hospital made of injuries found on Brandon's body.

Also admitted was an audio tape of the 911 emergency call Brandon's grandmother made to police after the baby was found not breathing in his crib in the evening of Feb. 10.

A key issue for jurors likely is the timing of the shaking that resulted in extensive bleeding in the baby's brain and spinal cord.

The state's key witness, an Atlanta forensic pathologist who performed an autopsy of the child, testified that Brandon was shaken 15 to 20 minutes before he stopped breathing. At that time Steven Edwards was alone in caring for the infant.

The defense has argued the shaking could have occurred much earlier -- before 4:45 p.m. that afternoon.

If so, Shannon Edwards, the baby's mother and Steven Edwards wife, also was at home helping care for her son.

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