COVINGTON, La. (AP) — A 29-year-old New Orleans man has been convicted a second time of murdering one of his infant twin sons in the suburb where their mother was living, the district attorney said Friday.
Anthony Dearmas faces life in prison without parole — the same sentence he received in 2019, when jurors voted 11-1 to convict him of first-degree murder in the death of 6-week-old Karter Smith.
Jurors deliberated about three hours on Thursday before unanimously finding the man guilty of first-degree murder, 22nd Judicial District Attorney Warren Montgomery said in a news release Friday.
Montgomery, who represents St. Tammany and Washington parishes, said Dearmas qualified for retrial after the U.S. Supreme Court found split verdicts unconstitutional in state criminal trials.
Defense attorneys argued for a manslaughter conviction, saying Dearmas didn’t mean to kill his son.
Dr. Michael DeFatta of the St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s office testified that the baby’s skull was broken in seven places, indicating it had been crushed. His lungs were bruised, as well, DeFatta said.
Dearmas was babysitting the twins and their 3-year-old brother in the New Orleans suburb of Slidell while their mother worked early on May 10, 2017. He originally told the mother and investigators that the older brother had dropped the infant twice while Dearmas was in the shower.
Karter died three days later in a hospital.
After detectives said Karter’s injuries were too serious to have been caused by falling from a 3-year-old’s arms, Dearmas said that he himself had fallen twice with the baby in his arms. Still later, he said, he had slapped the infant twice, knocking him to the floor, because he was screaming.
Montgomery said prosecutors played videotape of that interview, in which Dearmas said, “I tried to check myself but just couldn’t.”
Jurors also convicted Dearmas of cruelty to a juvenile and rejected both manslaughter and a plea of not guilty because of insanity, Montgomery said.
Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty at either trial, leaving life in prison as the only possible sentence.