Fort Worth man found guilty in scalding death of his two-year-old daughter

Posted Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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FORT WORTH -- A man accused of killing his two-year-old daughter by holding her down in scalding water was found guilty Thursday.

Charles Bellamy, 27, seemed emotionless as jurors agreed with prosecutors that he be made to serve half of whatever sentence is handed down before he is eligible for parole, and that probation be taken off the table in the death of Jaz'mine Howard.

Joy Howard, the toddler's mother, had to be helped out of the courtroom after closing arguments during which one of the prosecutors described how Jaz'mine must have fought the tortuous death she endured on March 15, 2011.

Walking toward the exit, Joy Howard was bent over and crying as she inched her way out of the courtroom, buoyed by the arms of prosecutor Kimberly D'Avignon.

During her closing, D'Avignon told the jury that for at least two minutes, Jaz'mine must have cried out to her father, perplexed by what was happening to her.

"Imagine how many times Jaz'mine would have had time to say, 'Daddy stop, stop daddy, daddy why, daddy what did I do?' " D'Avignon said.

On Wednesday, Bellamy took the stand in his own defense and admitted that his lack of responsibility caused his daughter's death.

His defense attorneys argued for the jury to return with a guilty verdict on the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide, a state jail felony that could garner a prison sentence as short as two years.

"He's not going to sit back and let you believe that he intentionally did this to his child," said defense attorney Clay Graham during closing arguments. "That's not true. Bellamy told you what happened. He was there. He didn't have to do that. It took a lot of stones to do that."

But prosecutor Dale Smith countered that Bellamy's testimony on Wednesday was just a story and nothing more. There was no scientific or medical evidence backing up that story, Smith said during his closing arguments.

Bellamy did not have any explanation for the burns on Jaz'mine's body and took time to clean up the murder scene after Jaz'mine died, Smith said. He did not take the time to obtain medical attention for Jaz'mine before she died, testimony on Wednesday revealed.

"He did not want to take responsibility then and he does not want to take responsibility now," Smith said. "His own brother said he was acting normal when he got home and he called his brother a liar."

Smith said Bellamy also took the time to clean up the crime scene before authorities arrived. Remnants of Jaz'mine's skin were found in the living room, bedroom and bathroom, but not in the bathtub, when police came to investigate, Smith said.

"Felony murder is what he deserves and what he's responsible for," Smith told the jury. "You know how she struggled and how she fought. Anything less than felony murder is an injustice."

Joy Howard described her two-year-old daughter as a diva as she testified for the prosecution on Wednesday. Jaz'mine Howard was mature for her age and a real girly-girl, the mother said. The toddler liked to have her hair and nails done and liked wearing sunglasses.

"When I told people she was two, she told them she was four," Joy Howard told the jury.

Joy Howard, 21, said she had never seen Jaz'mine's father mistreat any of his other eight children, but he seemed to be more bothered than she when the toddler had a potty training mishap. Joy Howard said she chalked it up to a lack of experience.

"He's a new dad," she told the jury. "He hadn't been in her life that much."

The punishment phase of the trial will begin at 2 p.m. in state District Judge Louis Sturns' court.

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752

Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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