Jurors are to resume deliberations today in the murder trial of Tyrone Spellman, charged with beating his 17-month-old daughter to death after she knocked over and damaged his video-game system.
Spellman, also known as Anwar Salahuddin, of the 1500 block of North 29th Street, was arrested in the September 2006 death of Alayiah Turman after an autopsy indicated that the toddler's skull had been fractured in five places.
Prosecutors contend that Spellman was obsessed with video games, which he played up to six hours a day, and that he became enraged when the child damaged his Xbox system.
"That little baby's head cracked like a walnut. . . . Should we let whoever did this skate on through life?" Assistant District Attorney James Berardinelli said yesterday in his closing argument. Because the child's life was cut short, he said, she had been robbed of the joys of childhood and eventual marriage.
"When you kill someone, you take everything they ever had or ever will have. But there is one thing that can't be taken from her, and that is justice," he said, urging the jurors to return a guilty verdict.
In his charge to the jury, Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart said the panel could acquit Spellman or find him guilty of murder. If it chose murder, he said, jurors would have to determine whether the act was done with the "specific intent to kill" or whether the harm done was clearly malicious but without the intention to end her life.
The jury deliberated for about 21/2 hours before going home for the day.
Spellman, who did not testify during the week-long trial, is also charged with the lesser felony of endangering the welfare of a child.
In a signed statement to police, he is quoted as saying that he hit the child twice in the face and threw her against a chair but never intended for her to die.
His defense attorney, Bobby Hoof, said his client is innocent and the statement was coerced after Spellman was held, mostly alone, inside a Special Victims Unit interrogation room for nearly 24 hours.
He confessed, Hoof said, in an effort to protect the child's mother, Mia Turman. Citing Department of Human Services records, Hoof contended that Turman had a history of neglecting the child.
Surrounded by some of her relatives Turman sat in the courtroom yesterday and listened intently, staring straight ahead.