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Man sentenced to life in prison for injuries that killed little girl
BEAUMONT- by Haley Bull
A jury sentenced Stephen Odom to life in prison for causing injuries that led to the death of his girlfriend's 3-year old daughter, Ja'Kyra Henderson. After an emotional day for family members from both parties, relatives of both Henderson and Odom told KFDM News, nobody wins in this case.
The jury in Judge John Stevens' court deliberated for about three hours Friday afternoon before deciding 32-year old Odom should receive a life sentence for the death of Henderson. Thursday, the panel convicted him of intentional injury to a child, a first degree felony.
The little girl died Jan. 15, 2012 from internal bleeding and other injuries. Doctors said Ja'Kyra was hit so hard her liver was cut and pushed against her spine.
Prosecutors did not specify a number of years to jurors, but said they wanted a severe sentence.
"Beating your child to death is not a loving father," Lindsey Scott told jurors during her closing arguments. "Do not send a message to this community that you can commit this type of crime and get probation."
Defense attorneys asked jurors to give Odom probation, something he was eligible for since he had no prior felony convictions.
"Not once did you hear anyone say he was not a loving father," defense attorney, Audwin Samuel, told the jury during his closing arguments. "Allow him to prove to you, this country, and himself that he's worthy."
Odom testified as a witness for the defense, crying while on the stand. When asked if he ever hit Ja'Kyra, Odom said no.
Wednesday, Ja'Kyra's 7-year old brother testified that he saw Odom hit her twice and described getting "whoopings". While testifying Thursday, Odom said he never hit them and repeated it during the punishment phase.
"I just want to show them I'm better than what I'm made out to be because I know I can do it. I just can't see myself in prison for this," Odom told jurors. Odom said he wasn't a bad person and would abide by probation terms, if given that chance.
Prosecutors said Odom tested positive for PCP, marijuana and benzodiazepine while on bond and asked jurors to consider that in their deliberations.
"What is the value of the life of a three-year old innocent child? What if this was your child?" Scott asked jurors.
After the life sentence was read, family members of both Henderson and Odom said no one wins because nothing could bring Ja'Kyra back.
"You know we've all lost a cousin, a niece, a daughter, and now you might as well say that we have lost another relative because he has to spend the rest of his life in prison," Odom's cousin, Renedia Anderson said. "I still to this day in my heart, I don't feel as though he did it. Either way the sentence went justice still isn't served because it's not gonna bring Baby K back."
Prosecutors said they're happy with the sentence.
"It's good to know that this is what the community and citizens of our community think a case like this is worth and the death of a child is worth," Scott said after the sentence was read.
Under Texas law, Odom cannot be considered for parole until his time served and any good time credit equals thirty years.