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Man sentenced to life in prison for injuries that killed girlfriend's daughter
UPDATE: The jury sentenced Stephen Odom to life in the January 2012 death of Ja'Kyra Henderson, 3.
JEFFERSON COUNTY - From Jefferson County District Attorney's Office
Stephen Demond Odom, 32, was sentenced today (1/17/14) to a term of life in the state penitentiary in connection with a 2011 injury to a child case. The sentence resulted from a jury trial in the Criminal District Court of Jefferson County during the week of January 13, 2014. Judge John Stevens presided during the trial.
On January 15, 2012, Beaumont EMS responded to a call for assistance at a local nursing home. There they found three year old Jakyra Henderson unresponsive and with no pulse. The childs mother and the defendant had taken the child by the nursing home (where the mother worked) while on the way to seek medical attention for Jakyra. Jakyras mother and nursing staff at the facility noted that she was limp and unresponsive, and the staff was already trying to revive Jakyra when EMS arrived. She was immediately transported to Christus St. Elizabeth hospital, where she was declared deceased at 7:20 a.m. that day.
An autopsy was ordered due to the unusual nature of death, and it was determined that she had died from blunt force trauma to the abdomen and had multiple injuries to her internal organs, all at various stages of healing.
A Crime Stoppers segment aired on the first anniversary of Jakyras death, which led to a call from a friend of the family. She informed police that Jakyras older brother Jacob had made an outcry that he had seen Odom "punch" his sister in the stomach.
Odom was indicted in March of 2013, and the conviction is for a first degree felony based upon the fact that the jury ruled that it was an intentional act.
Prosecutor Lindsey Scott said, "It turned my stomach when the defense argued for probation, and I argued to the jury that probation would be offensive for this crime. This was about justice for Jakyra, and a life term is justice."
Under Texas law, a life term for Odom means that he cannot be considered for parole until his actual time served (plus any "good time" credits awarded by penitentiary officials) equals thirty (30) years.
BEAUMONT - The jury is now deliberating in the punishment phase of the trial of a man it convicted of causing injuries that led to the death of his girlfriend's daughter.
KFDM is covering the trial. Stay with KFDM and kfdm.com for updates.
The jury convicted Stephen Odom, 32, of a First Degree Felony charge of Injury to a Child in the January 2012 death of Ja'Kyra Henderson, 3.
The jury in Judge John Stevens court deliberated for about four hours Thursday before finding Odom guilty. The punishment phase began Friday morning. The jury began deliberating in the punishment phase at about 1:30 p.m. Friday after hearing from witnesses, including Odom. He faces up to life in prison. He testified in his own defense Friday in the punishment phase.
Prosecutors say Odom struck Henderson so violently it pushed her liver against her spine. The girl's brother testified that in the past, he'd seen Odom punch his sister in the stomach. Odom testified in his own defense Thursday and denied hitting the girl,
The prosecutor is asking the jury to give Odom 'severe' jail time but she wouldn't specify how much time. The defense is asking for probation. This is Odom's first felony conviction.
The jury convicted him of a First Degree Felony of intentionally injuring the girl. He faces a sentence of up to life in prison but is also eligible for probation. The jury was also allowed to consider a Second Degree Felony charge of Injury to a Child. A conviction on that charge would have led to a punishment ranging from probation to up to 20 years.