Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa father guilty of baby's murder

TAMPA — A Hillsborough County jury returned guilty verdicts Thursday against a man charged with aggravated child abuse and first-degree murder in the death of his 10-month-old son.

Each time prosecutors told jurors that Jovan Blackmon killed his baby, the Tampa father shook his head no in court. But he couldn't explain at his trial this week what caused the head trauma that contributed to Demetrius Blackmon's death.

"You don't take away someone's liberty because he told you he was with the baby when he went into distress," defense attorney Theda James said during closing statements.

Witnesses testified that Blackmon, 31, didn't like his youngest son, whom he referred to as a "motherf-----" on the last healthy day of the boy's life, July 26, 2005.

It took jurors about two hours to reach their verdict. The conviction carries an automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Blackmon is "the mildest person you can think of," James said in her closing.

"Mr. Blackmon may talk like a sailor, but that doesn't mean he's a killer," she said.

Blackmon testified that he made certain remarks to annoy his sisters, including one about not liking the baby because the baby didn't like him. After a friend testified to seeing Blackmon hold a belt over the child's head when making that comment, Blackmon said he was just playing around.

Demetrius was the youngest of three sons Blackmon shared with longtime girlfriend Sonya Hannor. Prosecutors argued that Blackmon injured the baby after Hannor had fallen asleep.

Blackmon said he went to check on the boy and found him having trouble breathing.

"There was absolutely no reason for this man to sneak into the room, hurt his baby and then bring the baby to his girlfriend," James said.

Doctors said the child was brain dead when he arrived at the hospital. The defense argued that the baby could have sustained injuries earlier in the day when he was around a group of other children playing.

An associate medical examiner testifying for prosecutors said the baby had internal and external bleeding, which may have been caused by forceful shaking but definitely not an accident.

Kevin Graham can be reached at or (813) 226-3433.

Tampa father guilty of baby's murder 05/08/08 [Last modified: Thursday, May 8, 2008 10:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Video: Rays Souza on that oh-so-bad dive, and reaction from Twins fans


    What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking when he made that oh-so-bad dive for a ball in the seventh inning Friday? Well, we'll let him tell you ...

  2. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?


    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  3. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo


    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  4. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies


    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  5. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win


    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.