A Dallas County jury will resume deliberations today about the fate of a Mesquite man accused of fatally beating his 4-month-old daughter.
If convicted of killing Lea Miller, 24-year-old Franzwa Miller faces an automatic life sentence with no possibility of parole
. The jury deliberated until shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday.
Prosecutors Reynie Tinajero and Elaine Evans say Miller killed his daughter in June 2009, shattering her skull and making it look "like a jigsaw puzzle
But defense attorneys Scottie Allen and Patty Morris say the baby's mother, Alesha Dean, was the killer.
"Who killed that baby? Who killed it?" Allen said to jurors during closing arguments Thursday. "What does the evidence say?"
Prosecutors responded by telling jurors that Dean is charged in the case and would eventually be held responsible. But for now, they said, the jury should be concerned about Miller's actions.
"This day is about justice for Lea as it relates to her father, Franzwa Miller," Evans said in her closing argument. "Why those two people were blessed with this child, we'll never know. It's a shame."
Testifying earlier for the prosecution, Dean said that on the day Lea was rushed to the hospital, Miller hit the baby "as hard as he could" across the face. The child then passed out, she said. Miller told a Child Protective Services worker that it was a "gentle slap," according to testimony.
Dean, 20, is charged with injury to a child by not stopping the abuse. She faces up to life in prison if she is convicted.
In testifying against Miller, she said she has no plea deal with Dallas County prosecutors.
Lea lay unconscious on the floor for five minutes to an hour
– depending on which version of events is used – before Dean and Miller called 911.
Doctors who treated the girl said she had old rib fractures, a broken arm, a skull fracture, bleeding in the back of her eyes and brain injuries.
Dean, who said Miller abused her, testified that Miller beat Lea with a spatula and once broke it while hitting her. She said he also ordered her to keep Lea in a portable crib in a bedroom closet for most of the day. She testified that she didn't prevent the abuse because she was afraid Miller would harm her.
Miller's attorneys called witnesses Thursday to support their contention that Dean killed Lea. Dean admitted on the witness stand that she once gently shook the baby to shush her. She testified that afterward she felt guilty and told her sister about what happened.
Brandi Barber, 23, who grew up with Miller and is a friend, testified that when Lea was on life support at the hospital, Dean seemed emotionless
"She did not cry
," Barber told jurors. "She had no emotion
Others have testified that Dean was upset or tearful.
Barber said that at one point, Dean left the hospital to go to the movies with her sister and brother-in-law and did not return until the next day
, after going to church and to lunch. Dean testified earlier that police instructed her to stay with her sister at all times.
A Mesquite police detective, Brandon Snyder, testified that he drove Dean to the hospital when doctors were taking Lea off life support. The detective said that as they pulled up to the hospital, Dean rolled her eyes and sighed, saying, "I don't have time to deal with all this right now."
He added that Dean said she had just started a new job and couldn't afford to lose it. [...]