MANATEE - Dwight A. Baldwin today was found guilty of first-degree murder in the Oct. 27, 2008, beating death of 2-year-old Tez-arrion Armour, who he had been baby-sitting.
Baldwin was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Taking the stand in his own defense, Baldwin on Thursday admitted to hit the child but said he never hit him in the head. A doctor testified that Tez-arrion died from head injuries.
The jury began its deliberation just before 4:30 p.m. Thursday, but after a couple of hours jurors told Circuit Judge Thomas Gallen they wanted to take today to review several pieces of evidence from the case, including Baldwin's interview with investigators at Manatee County Sheriff's Office and transcripts of recordings investigators made of a conversation between Baldwin and his girlfriend, Audrey Lawrence.
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Baldwin placed Tez-arrion on a training toilet and continued to beat the child after the child fell asleep, according to trial testimony.
Over the course of a few hours, the child continued to receive beatings.
Baldwin had positioned the training toilet close to the bed, from where he continued to beat the child, according to prosecutors.
Carolyn Schlemmer, a public defender who is representing Baldwin, said her client admits he struck the child, but stressed he never hit the child in the head.
Lawrence and Baldwin were the only adults in the residence at the time.
Schlemmer argued in court Baldwin took the blame in order to protect Lawrence, from further charges. Lawrence took a deal for a lesser sentence to testify against Baldwin. She served 364 days in jail for aggravated child abuse.
"We talked about it. It was basically me taking everything," Baldwin said on the stand Thursday. "They can't do anything else. She already took a plea deal."
The beatings occurred in at least three separate incidents lasting from about 8 a.m. until about noon when paramedics had to be called when Tez-arrion stopped breathing, according to testimony. The couple told emergency personnel Tez-arrion was suffering from asthma.
Evidence presented in trial included Tez-arrion's Spider-Man pajamas, a fly swatter broken into two pieces, a black belt and photos of the child's injuries.
Lawrence began putting cold water on the child to try to revive him, according to statements.
An emergency room doctor at Manatee Memorial Hospital who treated Tez-arrion testified earlier this week the child had blood in his urine, low body temperature and multiple injuries, including bruises, and appeared to be in a state of shock and near death.
The child was unable to breathe on his own and was transferred to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, where he later died.
The child died from head injuries; he had brain swelling and bleeding.