Fort Worth man sentenced to 55 years for murder of 2-year-old daughter

Posted Friday, Jan. 25, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH -- A 27-year-old man who killed his 2-year-old daughter by holding her down in a bathtub of scalding water was sentenced Thursday to 55 years in prison.

Charles Bellamy must serve half his sentence before he is eligible for parole, prosecutors said.

He faced a maximum of 99 years in prison. Bellamy was also fined $5,000.

Earlier in the day, the Tarrant County jury convicted Bellamy of murder in the death of the child, Jaz'mine Howard, on March 15, 2011.

Jaz'mine was one of Bellamy's nine children with several women, witnesses had said.

Joy Howard, 21, the toddler's mother, was helped out of the courtroom after closing arguments during which one prosecutor described how Jaz'mine must have struggled to escape from the hot water.

Howard was bent over and crying as she inched out of the room on the arm of prosecutor Kimberly D'Avignon.

During her closing, D'Avignon told jurors that for at least two minutes, Jaz'mine must have cried out to her father.

"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 and admitted that he caused his daughter's death but said it was because he was irresponsible, not because he intended to kill her, which is an important difference in the degree of the offense.

His attorneys asked the jury Thursday to find him guilty of the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide, a state jail felony with a sentence as short as two years.

"Bellamy told you what happened. He was there," defense attorney Clay Graham said. "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 was just a story. No scientific or medical evidence backed it up, Smith said.

"He did not want to take responsibility then, and he does not want to take responsibility now," Smith said.

The prosecutor noted that Bellamy 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."

In her testimony Wednesday, Joy Howard described her 2-year-old daughter as a diva. Jaz'mine was mature for her age and a real girly-girl, she said. The toddler liked to have her hair and nails done and liked wearing sunglasses.

"When I told people she was 2, she told them she was 4," Howard said.

Howard said that she had never seen Bellamy mistreat any of his eight other children but that he seemed to be more bothered than she when Jaz'mine had a potty training mishap. Howard said she chalked it up to a lack of experience.

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752

Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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