MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – An obviously distraught Markeise Kardell Caldwell can be heard fighting back tears as he speaks to a police officer following the death of his then-girlfriend’s baby 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 defendant 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 was not 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 hit him, hit this 4-month-old child repeatedly and slammed him against the footboard of a bed several times,” Walker said.
Defense attorney Bucky Thomas countered in his opening statement that his client is not “this horrible killer that the state is trying to make you believe,” but a man suffering from schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder who suffered from a 2014 robbery and shooting. was caused. He said prosecutors were unable to prove their case that Caldwell intended to kill the baby.
“It’s not going to give you any evidence that he woke up and decided, ‘I’m going to kill that kid,'” he said.
Thomas told jurors to scrutinize the client’s demeanor when they watch a video of the police interrogation.
“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 selected 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 deputies.
Walker told jurors they would hear evidence that Kendrick’s older brother, Kendall, was also abused.
Walker said jurors saw a text message Caldwell sent the boys’ mother telling her Kendrick had fallen off the bed and hit his head. The defendant gave police a similar version of events on May 3, 2018, telling them Kendall pushed his brother off the bed.
Later, Walker said, Caldwell changed his story and confessed. An autopsy revealed the baby had a skull fracture, prosecutors said.
“He was repeatedly beaten by a grown man,” he said. “The defendant repeatedly slammed him against the floor of a bed.”
Testimony continues on Tuesday.
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