FORT WORTH -- A Fort Worth man who testified in his own defense that he never meant to hurt his fiancee's daughter was convicted Friday of murder in the child's death.
Jurors in state District Judge Louis Sturns' court deliberated about two hours before finding Samson Loynachan, 32, guilty of a lesser charge than the capital murder that prosecutors had sought in the death of 2-year-old Chloe Robinson.
Chloe's mother, Nicole Robinson, who went through a wedding with Loynachan as the child was dying but never filed the paperwork to make it official, sat quietly in the courtroom in tears and later thanked prosecutors. Loynachan's parents also sat quietly in court as the verdict was read.
The punishment phase of the trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday. Loynachan faces five to 99 years or life in prison; he is not eligible for probation.
Loynachan took the witness stand this week to tell jurors he may have injured the child when he hit her on the head with a vehicle arm rest while trying to cheer her up. He had picked the child up sick from day care and taken her home.
Within an hour, she was unconscious and having difficulty breathing from a fatal head injury that expert witnesses said was caused by severe shaking and/or a sharp blow to the head. She died the next day after emergency surgery to relieve brain swelling.
Prosecutor Alana Minton, who tried the case with Eric Nickols, challenged Loynachan about his story and about others that witnesses said he told after the child's injury -- that she had fallen on the playground or out of her toddler bed or that he'd tripped while carrying her and she'd fallen into a coffee table.
And Minton sharply questioned his veracity after he admitted lying about the events. She pointed to a hand injury that police noted the evening the child was injured and suggested that he hit Chloe in the head with his fist.
"We know it wasn't an accident," Minton said during closing arguments Friday. "Can you believe anything this man says?"
Defense attorney Fred Cummings urged jurors to consider the lesser charge against him or find him not guilty.
"They don't want you to decide this case on the evidence," Cummings told jurors. "They want you to decide this case on emotions. They want you to fill in their blanks."
Defense witnesses testified that Loynachan was a devoted family man who willingly took on Robinson's four daughters. Although only Chloe lived with the couple in north Fort Worth, the home was often filled with children, including his two by a previous marriage, friends testified.
Robinson testified that she and Loynachan married while Chloe was in intensive care at the hospital in hopes that she could get Loynachan's military benefits. He was a supervising petty officer for the Navy at Naval Air Station Fort Worth and had served in Iraq.
Loynachan told jurors he wanted to get married "because I wanted to be Chloe's daddy."
Ambulances were called Aug. 25, 2010, after Loynachan rushed with the child to a neighbor's house seeking help. By the time she arrived at the hospital, the child was unconscious and had brain swelling so severe that it was life-threatening, according to medical personnel at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth.
In a case evocative of the Casey Anthony trial in Florida, prosecutors and medical personnel admitted that they did not know what caused Chloe's injury but that it happened while she under Loynachan's care.
Dianna Hunt, 817-390-7084