TAMPA — Jovan Blackmon's 10-month-old son died in 2005. Prosecutors say Blackmon killed him.
On Wednesday, the Tampa welder tried to convince jurors that he didn't.
Already this week during Blackmon's first-degree murder trial, they had heard medical experts say that Demetrius Blackmon died after suffering severe trauma to his head. The baby had internal and external injuries, which may have been caused by forceful shaking and definitely were not accidental, an associate medical examiner said.
Jovan Blackmon's sister had testified that she heard her brother call Demetrius a "motherf-----" on the last healthy day of the baby's life, July 26, 2005.
A friend of the family, Connetia White, said she saw Blackmon hold a belt over the child's head and heard him say, "I don't like him, and he don't like me."
Blackmon, 31, said he grew up using foul language. "It meant nothing toward my son," he said.
The belt belonged to a child. He had been playing around with his son, pretending as though he would spank him, he said. But he didn't.
He liked to make comments or feign actions that he knew would get a rise out of his sister and her friends, he said. He meant no harm by them.
"Did you have any bad feeling toward your baby?" asked defense attorney Theda James.
"No, ma'am," Blackmon said.
Four times on the stand, Blackmon recalled that Demetrius, the youngest of his three sons with longtime girlfriend Sonya Hannor, had been a "good baby." He smiled at the memory.
He showed no emotion as he recalled waking July 27, checking on his baby and finding him struggling to breathe.
The child was brain dead when he arrived at the hospital, doctors said. Prosecutors argue that Blackmon injured the baby after Hannor fell asleep.
Blackmon and his attorneys say no one can pinpoint when the child was hurt or who did it. Jurors will hear closing arguments today. If convicted, Blackmon could get life in prison.
When asked Wednesday whether he had hit Demetrius, the father shook his head.
"No," he said. "Never."
Colleen Jenkins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3337.