MOBILE, Ala (Walla) — Marquis Cardel Caldwell in palpable daze can be heard crying as he talks to a police officer after the death of his then-girlfriend’s child in May 2018.
“You hurt my child,” he said off-camera in police body cam footage shown to the jury in Caldwell’s trial for capital murder.
Prosecutors used their opening statement to portray the accused as a violent man who beat 4-month-old Kendrick Cole and then attempted to cover it up. Mobile County Assistant District Attorney Lewis Walker told jurors that the defendant hit the child on May 3, 2018, in the Azalea Point apartments while the child’s mother was working.
Walker said Caldwell, 29, did not seek medical treatment. He added that the boy was not transferred to Providence Hospital until three days later. He said the child died in a helicopter that was taking him to the University of South Alabama Hospital.
“Caldwell hit him, punched this four-month-old repeatedly and hit him with the foot of the bed several times,” Walker said.
Defense attorney Bucky Thomas responded in his opening statement that his client is not “that rude killer the state is trying to convince you of” but a man with schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder from the robbery and shootings in 2014. He said prosecutors would not be able to bear the burden of proving that Caldwell intended to kill the child.
“It will not be proof given to you,” he said, “that he woke up and decided, ‘I’m going to kill that kid.
Thomas asked jurors to closely examine his client’s behavior when they watched a video of a police interrogation.
“He is frantic when he talks to the investigators,” he said.
“Demons were chasing me,” said Thomas, at one point, Caldwell told investigators.
A week later, prosecutors and defense attorneys on Monday finally agreed to a jury to hear Mobile County’s first death penalty case since the COVID-19 pandemic. The jury includes nine men, seven women, and four alternates.
Walker told the jurors that they would hear evidence that Kendrick’s older brother, Kendall, had also been abused.
Walker said jurors will see a text message that Caldwell sent the boys’ mother telling her Kendrick had fallen off the bed and hit his head. The defendant gave police a similar account of the events of May 3, 2018, telling them that Kendall pushed his brother out of bed.
Walker later said, Caldwell changed his story and confessed. The public prosecutor said an autopsy revealed that the boy had a fractured skull.
He said, “You were punched by an adult man.” “The defendant repeatedly hit him on the floorboard of the bed.”
Testimony resumes on Tuesday.
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