NEW PORT RICHEY — Jeremy James Kirkpatrick beat to death his girlfriend's baby daughter in September 2006. On Thursday, Kirkpatrick, 26, was found guilty of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility for parole.
The mother of Jasmine Chambers spoke outside the courtroom.
"Jasmine gets heaven," said April Chambers, 21, "and he gets a jail cell.
"He'll have to sit in that little tiny cell, and think, and think."
The jury took a bit more than three hours to reach the verdict that ended the three-day trial in which pretty much the only question was intent. Was this an accident? Or was it murder?
Kirkpatrick's attorneys told jurors from the get-go that they were not disputing that his actions led to the death of the 22-pound 13-month-old.
They were hoping, they said, for a conviction on the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.
Chambers and Kirkpatrick lived with her parents in New Port Richey. On Sept. 21, 2006, she left her daughter alone with him for about an hour in the evening.
At the beginning of that hour Jasmine Chambers was healthy.
At the end of that hour she was dead.
Jurors learned from testimony Tuesday and Wednesday that she had 47 separate bruises all over her body and swelling and bleeding in her brain.
She died because her brain died.
Kirkpatrick first said she had fallen off a couch. He later said he had dropped her in the bathtub and then on the living room floor and that he had slapped her when she kept crying.
Emergency workers and medical examiners said even all that could not have caused injuries so severe.
Attorneys made their closing arguments Thursday morning.
Public defender Dean Livermore said Kirkpatrick's actions were reckless and careless rather than willful or malicious. He said Kirkpatrick was immature and incompetent and inexperienced in caring for a small child.
"He lost control," Livermore told jurors, "and this is the tragic result."
Prosecutor Mike Halkitis called Kirkpatrick's actions something else entirely — "despicable" — and pointed to the horrific details of the autopsy.
"Physical evidence doesn't lie," Halkitis told jurors. "It has no motive to fabricate.
"It doesn't lie.
"It doesn't forget."
Michael Kruse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6244.