MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – A visibly distraught Markeise Kardell Caldwell is heard fighting back tears as he speaks with 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 just three days later the boy was taken to Providence Hospital. He said the child died in a helicopter that took him to the University Hospital of the University of South Alabama.
“Caldwell hit him, repeatedly punched this 4-month-old child and slammed him against the footboard of a bed multiple times,” Walker said.
Defense attorney Bucky Thomas countered in his opening statement that his client is not “this cold-blooded killer that the state is trying to make you believe,” but a man suffering from schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder caused by a 2014 robbery and shooting. He said, that prosecutors will not be able to meet their burden of proving that Caldwell intended to kill the baby.
“There will be no evidence presented to you that he woke up and decided, ‘I’m going to kill that kid,'” he said.
Thomas told jurors to examine his client’s demeanor closely when they watch video of the police interrogation.
“He’s crazy 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 agreed on 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 alternates.
Walker told jurors they would hear evidence that Kendrick’s older brother, Kendall, was also abused.
Walker said jurors would see a text message that Caldwell sent the boys’ mother telling her that Kendrick fell off the bed and hit his head. The defendant gave police a similar version of the events of May 3, 2018, telling them that Kendall pushed his brother off the bed.
Later Walker said, Caldwell changed his story and confessed. An autopsy revealed the baby suffered a fractured skull, the prosecutor said.
“He was punched several times by an adult,” he said. “The defendant smashed him repeatedly against the floorboard of a bed.”
Certification resumes on Tuesday.
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