Cody Geddings is guilty of second-degree murder by child neglect
in the 2010 slaying of Addison Weast, his girlfriend’s 16-month-old daughter, a Clark County District Court jury ruled today.
After deliberating for about four hours, the jury returned its verdict early this afternoon in the trial, which began early last week.
Geddings, 26, who had claimed that the girl was injured by a large oxygen tank falling on her head, was immediately handcuffed by court marshals and remanded to the Clark County Detention Center, where he will be held without bail awaiting sentencing.
Judge Douglas Herndon set sentencing for 9 a.m. April 17.
The jury also found Geddings guilty of a felony count of child neglect with substantial bodily harm for not trying to immediately get medical aid for the girl after she was injured at his home on March 31, 2010, which resulted in her death.
Following the verdict, Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Staudaher said prosecutors had been hoping to convince the jury that Geddings was guilty of first-degree murder by child abuse
“It’s not what we wanted, obviously. We got close,” Staudaher said.
Norman Reed, Geddings' public defender, said after the verdict that Geddings was "obviously shocked and disappointed."
However, "we certainly are happy that the jury did not find this was child abuse and that was a great victory in its own regard," Reed said.
A first-degree child abuse murder conviction could have brought a prison term from 20 years to life, Staudaher said.
Reed said the second-degree conviction means Gedding faces a minimum prison term of between 10 years and 18 years before being eligible for parole.
The judge has the options in second-degree murder of a prison term that could range from 10 years to 25 years, or from 10 years to life, Reed said.
On the second felony count, Geddings could see a prison term of between one and 20 years, he said.
The judge could run those terms consecutively or concurrently, he said.
The jury’s verdict indicates it decided there was a reasonable doubt that Geddings shook the child violently and slammed her head into something, which is the scenario that Staudaher had told them the medical evidence showed.
Staudaher had told jurors Thursday that if they completely believed Geddings’ story about an oxygen tank falling on the girl’s head in the back yard, they needed to convict him of second-degree murder. That was because Geddings had allowed the girl to go into a dangerous place, he told them.
Throughout the trial, Reed had told the jury that the girl’s injuries, which included brain swelling and retinal hemorrhaging, were caused when she knocked over a large oxygen tank Geddings claims to have temporarily placed in a wobbly chair in his back yard.
Prosecutors said police never believed Geddings' second story, saying he came up with that to explain the severity of the blow to the girl's head.
Earlier this week, the defense brought in John Farley, a UNLV physics professor, to testify. Farley said he had done experiments with the 145-pound oxygen tank, letting it fall onto a crash test dummy that had been rigged to measure the velocity of the impact. Farley said that his conclusions were that the tank could have provided enough force to cause a fatal head injury.