Richard McTear Jr. was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without parole for throwing a 3-month-old baby from a vehicle on Interstate 275.
Judge William Fuente sentenced McTear immediately after receiving the life-sentence recommendation from jurors.
McTear, 26, was convicted of first-degree murder last week by the same jury. He had been accused of throwing his former girlfriend’s baby, Emanuel Murray Jr., from a vehicle five years ago.
Just before the sentencing, the child’s mother, Jasmine Bedwell, spoke to the court.
“I’m happy I have justice for my son. That’s all I wanted,” she said. “I just never thought I’d be standing here today.”
“I just want to thank everybody,” she continued through sobs. “I’m happy. I waited and I waited for this day. I’m just happy I have justice for my son. That’s it.”
McTear showed no apparent emotion after the verdict was read. After the judge sentenced him on other charges including aggravated child abuse and battery, McTear told the judge he had a question but that he’d ask his lawyers.
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Earlier Tuesday, jurors were questioned by the judge and attorneys following reports of a run-in with McTear's family in the parking garage following court on Monday. A juror felt the jurors were followed by a relative of McTear who tried to listen to their conversation.
Each juror was asked if the incident would sway their judgment during the sentencing phase, but all stated to the court that they could remain impartial.
Following the questioning, the defense requested a mistrial, which Fuente denied.
McTear's mother, Jackline Patton, gave 30 minutes of emotional testimony in which she broke down and cried multiple times as she admitted to beating her son and to being a drug addict.
"How could I take care of him when I could not take care of myself?" Patton testified.
Patton told jurors she spent the first five years of her son's life behind bars. He was raised by his maternal grandmother.
According to Patton, she was not very involved in her son's life once she was released from prison because she started using drugs.
It was in a drug-fueled rage that Patton stabbed her son when he was 17. Patton said she went to the store and spent money on McTear's daughter, her granddaughter, and when she returned home she demanded her son pay her back.
"[It'd only] be right if he replaced my money with drugs," Patton explained.
In between loud sobs, Patton also recalled physically abusing her son, pointing to an incident in which she threw him outside of the home while he was ill and threw his crutches on top of him.
"He said, 'Momma, I got no place to go,'" Patton recalled.
Patton also discussed McTear's three other biological children and his role as a father. Patton described her son as caring, loving and very concerned about the care of his children.
Following Patton, neuropsychologist Harry Krop, testified. Krop told jurors that McTear struggled to understand his mother's homosexuality and this impacted his frame of mind.
"His mother was totally bald and dressed like a man," Krop said. "That was truly difficult for him to comprehend and understand."
He added McTear has an average IQ.
Subsequently, jurors heard from McTear's pastor at Heartsong Church, his maternal grandmother Willie Patton and a jailhouse pastor.
"No doubt in my mind he'd enhance the prison system," said Pastor Joe Johnson when asked by defense attorneys if McTear would be suitable for prison.
During closing arguments, the state asked the jury to remember the age of the victim in the crime.
"What we have here is a 3-month-old baby who was incapable of physically resisting, incapable of trying to flee, incapable of uttering a word in protest," said prosecutor Ron Gale. He then asked jurors to recommend McTear be executed.
The defense asked jurors to consider McTear's childhood when deliberating, with both sides agreeing it was "lousy." "He was subjected to some extensive, horrific, traumatic experiences," one of his defense lawyers argued.
"Given his history, this man doesn't deserve to die. People in his life made him the way he is," said the defense lawyer before asking jurors to show mercy.
On Monday, the court did not hear from baby Emanuel's parents during the sentencing phase of the trial. Instead, statements from both of them were read in court by Patricia Henley.
"No one will ever be able to understand the pain I feel every day for losing my very first child," Henley read from the child's mother, Jasmine Bedwell.
Bedwell took the stand for some grueling testimony during the trial, but Monday someone else read her words.
"The day he came into the world, I was filled
with hope and dreams for him. Now he will never be able to fulfill them," read Henley.
Emanuel's father was in prison when his son was born and when he died.
In his statement, he said he prays that no one else will ever have to go through the pain of losing a child in such a violent manner.
"He was too young to even speak. He had a loving family that cared about him deeply."