MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – Markeise Kardell Caldwell who is clearly distraught can be heard fighting back tears as he talks to the police following the death of his then girlfriend’s child in May 2018.
“I hurt my child,” she said as she exited the police body camera footage that was being played for jurors in the Caldwell capital murder trial.
Prosecutors used their opening statements to portray the defendant as a violent man who brutally beat 4-month-old Kendrick Cole and tried to hide it. Mobile County District Attorney Louis Walker told jurors that the defendant assaulted the child on May 3, 2018, at Azalea Point Apartments while the child’s mother was at work.
Caldwell, 29, did not seek treatment, Walker said. He went on to say that three days later the boy was rushed to Providence Hospital. He said the child died in the helicopter that was taking him to the University of South Alabama’s University Hospital.
“Caldwell hit her, punched the 4-month-old repeatedly and slammed her against the bed board multiple times,” Walker said.
Defense attorney Bucky Thomas responded in his opening statement that his client is not “the ruthless killer the state is trying to believe” but a man suffering from schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder caused by a 2014 robbery and shooting. He said prosecutors will not be able to meet their burden of proving that Caldwell intended to kill the infant.
“There will be no evidence presented to you that you woke up and decided that I will kill that child,” he said.
Thomas told jurors to examine his client’s condition closely when watching the video of the police interrogation.
“He goes crazy when he talks to the detectives,” he said.
At one point, Thomas said, Caldwell told investigators: “The demons have been chasing me.”
After a week, prosecutors and defense attorneys on Monday finally agreed on a judge to hear the first death penalty case in Mobile County since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The jury of nine men and seven women includes four alternates.
Walker told jurors they will hear evidence that Kendrick’s older brother, Kendall, was also abused.
Walker said jurors will see a text message Caldwell sent to the boys’ mother telling her Kendrick had fallen off the bed and hit his head. The defendant gave the police a similar account of the events of May 3, 2018, telling them that Kendall pushed his brother on the bed.
Later, Walker said, Caldwell changed his story and confessed. An autopsy revealed the infant suffered a skull fracture, the prosecutor said.
He said: “He was repeatedly punched by an old man. “The accused repeatedly hit him on the bed board.”
Testimony will resume on Tuesday.
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