Prosecution witnesses testified Monday about the extensive injuries that 23-month-old Ellijah Burger sustained while being beaten to death by his father in November 2008.
Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Owens was asked about the level of pain that Ellijah went through. Owens, citing the extensive injuries, replied: a tremendous amount of pain and suffering.
Owens told the jurors he has performed about 3,000 autopsies a little more then 200 of them on children. The medical examiner compared the injuries Ellijah suffered to those of the other children he had performed autopsies on.
The number of injuries far exceeds the number Ive seen on the other children, Owens told jurors. If I added up all the injuries on the other children, I wouldnt have as many as were on Ellijah.
A Mecklenburg jury last week convicted Andre Hampton of first-degree murder in Ellijahs death. The jurors now must decide if Hampton, 27, should be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole.
Prosecutors on Monday were trying to show that Ellijahs murder was especially heinous.
Veteran Homicide Detective Garry McFadden testified that the injuries were unlike anything else he ever had seen.
McFadden said he investigated more than 800 homicides during his 21 years as a homicide investigator. He described the injuries that Ellijah had sustained all over his body, including his knuckles and the bottoms of his feet.
There were too many for me to count, he told the jurors.
Outside the presence of the jury, McFadden testified: It is the worst Ive ever seen.
Defense attorneys portrayed Hampton as a good student, respectful and hard working. They called to the witness stand some of Hamptons teachers, a friend and the mother of one of his old girlfriends.
Anthony Hampton told jurors about growing up with his twin brother, Andre. He recalled living in a rough neighborhood where there were killings, shootings and drug dealing.
We were always together, Anthony Hampton told the jurors. I always had my brother there. It made me feel safe comfortable All we ever had was each other.
Adrena Jackson, one of Hamptons teachers, called him a star student.
He was a social butterfly, Jackson recalled. I called him my child. He was nice to me. He was the one everyone liked being with talking with.
Marianne Wagnon, an assistant manager at a Wal-Mart, called Hampton a real good worker.
He was just a go-to person, she told jurors. I could count on him for everything. I never had a problem with him.
The jury of seven men and five women deliberated nearly five hours over two days before reaching their verdicts last week guilty of first-degree murder and felony child abuse.
Ellijah was beaten inside a motel room at a complex then called AARCS Residence Suites on South Tryon Street, where his family had been living.
Hampton confessed during a videotaped interview to beating Ellijah with a toothbrush, a hairbrush and a belt. His son, he told the homicide detective, wouldnt eat his soup.
Andre Hampton told jurors last week that he loved his son and didnt intend to kill him. His sons birth, he said, was like a dream come true.
I was proud of him, he said. He was a good kid. Every day I loved him even more.
During closing arguments last week, Mecklenburg Assistant District Attorney Bill Bunting showed jurors the autopsy photos of Ellijahs battered body.
Theres barely a spot on this child that is not abraded, bruised or broken ... from the top of his head to the very bottom of his feet, the prosecutor told jurors.
This child died from an abusive beating all because he wouldnt eat his soup.
Defense attorney Norman Butler told jurors during his closing arguments that theres no proof Hampton intended to kill Ellijah.
He did not set out to torture this child, Butler said. He thought he was doing the right thing. He thought he could help the child by making him eat.
But Butler said Hampton lost control while beating Ellijah.
Something got ahold of him, he told jurors. He doesnt know why. ... I dont know why.
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