Hung jury on trial of murdered, maimed baby

0
13
WEBCourtRoundup.jpg

mistrial was declared Feb. 28 in the murder trial of an Alpine man after jurors said they could not reach a verdict on whether he killed his ex-girlfriend’s baby.

Jurors said they were deadlocked mostly in favor of acquittal for Wiliey Kevin Foster, Jr., 28, in the 2016 death of Leah Rose Brown-Meza, who was 18-months-old when she died of head injuries. They took 12 ballots.

mistrial was declared Feb. 28 in the murder trial of an Alpine man after jurors said they could not reach a verdict on whether he killed his ex-girlfriend’s baby.

Jurors said they were deadlocked mostly in favor of acquittal for Wiliey Kevin Foster, Jr., 28, in the 2016 death of Leah Rose Brown-Meza, who was 18-months-old when she died of head injuries. They took 12 ballots.

Jurors re-heard the testimony of Lillie Golden Brown, 22, of Alpine, who was the girl’s mother who lived in a mobile home on the property of Foster’s parents in Alpine. Foster often stayed in his parents’ home. 

Foster’s attorney, Jan Ronis, said several jurors told him they would have convicted Lillie Brown of some offense relating to her daughter’s death based on her testimony as a prosecution witness.

“They had difficulty with (determining) who hurt the baby,” said Ronis. “She was on methamphetamine while taking care of the baby.”

The nine-man, three-woman jury deliberated three days before telling El Cajon Superior Court Judge Robert Amador they were hopelessly deadlocked. They requested to rehear all of Brown’s testimony from Feb. 16.

Ronis and co-counsel Gretchen von Helms both said jurors were deadlocked 10-2 for acquittal on the murder charge and 8-4 in favor of acquittal on the assault charge.

Ronis said there were some jurors who said they were still undecided, and he was including them among the 10 he said were leaning towards acquittal.

Deputy District Attorney Chantal de Mauregne said there were seven jurors who favored acquittal, three who felt Foster was guilty, and two were undecided on the murder count. 

De Mauregne said jurors deadlocked 5-4 in favor of acquittal on the assault upon a child charge with three jurors undecided.

A retrial date of April 16 was set by Amador and Foster will return to court on Mar. 9 for a status conference.  He has pleaded not guilty and has been in jail since his arrest on Dec. 9, 2016. Foster did not testify.

The jury was told Lillie Brown pleaded guilty to child endangerment and faces up to one year in jail when she is sentenced in May. The jury was also told of Brown’s arrest a few days before the trial started Feb. 5 for being drunk in public and misdemeanor battery of a man.

Brown was placed in a witness protection program because of some type of threat, but Foster was not the person who was threatening her, attorneys told the jury. The District Attorney’s office paid $12,491 for her rent and expenses, but severed their agreement with her partly due to her Feb. 3 arrest in an unknown location.

An unflattering video was played of her arrest in which she repeatedly argued with sheriff’s deputies and used profanity. She repeatedly insisted in the video she never harmed her baby, but no one was asking her about that.

Brown wept on the witness stand as she described finding her baby not breathing on Dec. 6, 2016. She said she woke up that day at 6 a.m. and threw up before going back to bed. After rising at noon, she discovered the baby appeared lifeless.

Ronis said she had not checked on the baby for 14 hours before finding her deceased. She also admitted to using methamphetamine in the past and said she initially denied the drug use when questioned by deputies.

The toddler’s father, Robert Meza, attended the trial, but he and his family walked out of the courtroom during Brown’s testimony. Meza did not testify.

The toddler was found with a broken arm, head injuries, and a burned foot from a space heater in the mobile home.  Brown testified that Foster put an ointment on the girl’s foot and wrapped it with a bandage. They did not take the baby to a doctor.

The prosecutor asked jurors to convict him of second-degree murder while Foster’s attorneys asked for an acquittal. Ronis attributed some of the baby’s injuries to a fall.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here