Man accused of killing a 2-year-old takes the witness stand in his own defense
Christian Tyrrell, 24, killed his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son by smashing him against a wall, a jury concluded Thursday. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole — the death penalty was waived.
The jury had listened for seven days to graphic descriptions of the vicious beatings suffered by Adrian Langlais, who was taken to Cook Children’s Medical Center on his birthday and died the next day.
They found Tyrrell, 24, guilty of capital murder of a person under 10 after about four hours of deliberation.
“Christian Tyrrell committed the horrific murder of an innocent 2 year old child,” said Sharen Wilson, Tarrant County district attorney. “I am glad the jury saw the truth of the case and did what they needed to do. Tyrrell is not fit to be a member of society, and will spend the rest of his life in prison.”
Adrian’s friends and relatives wept in the courtroom gallery as prosecutors summarized the child’s suffering during closing arguments Thursday.
An average breathing rate is 30 to 40 times a minute, said Kevin Boneberg, Tarrant County assistant district attorney, but “for Adrian, it was four to six breaths a minute,” he said. And then he asked the jury to breathe with him. Breath by breath, he counted them out, one every 15 seconds.
The thickest part of the skull that protects the brain stem was smashed against the wall, Boneberg said. The two major cracks went 13 1/2 and 9 centimeters down, roughly 5.4 inches and 3.4 inches, Boneberg said.
“It’s like a bullet through gelatin,” Boneberg said. “His brain matter turns from gray to white, from white to gray. The brain swells and wants to explode. Adrian is thinking, ‘Mom, dad, what did I do to deserve this?’ His optic nerve burst and is bleeding. The veins inside his eyes burst and blood comes out.”
In May, Adrian’s mother, Jessica Langlais, was also indicted on a capital murder charge. She is accused of causing her son’s death by striking him with or against a hard surface, injury to a child and failing to seek medical attention for Adrian. No trial date has been set.
Tyrrell blamed Jessica for Adrian’s injuries when he testified on his own behalf Wednesday. Boneberg told the jury not to waste its time searching for a good reason.
“The reality is, some people are just evil,” Boneberg told the jury. “Don’t guess yourself into a motive. Now that he’s facing you and this charge, he’s Shakespeare, he’s Romeo.”
Tyrrell’s defense attorneys, William “Bill” Ray and Steve Gordon, said the idea that Jessica, and not Tyrrell, caused the injuries that killed Adrian has merit.
“The facts show that both could have done this,” Gordon said. “There is no proof that the man sitting on my right committed capital murder.”
Ray said it is likely that Jessica will be asked some of the same questions Tyrrell was asked when she goes to trial.
“Well, Jessica, why did you not call the police?” Ray asked. “Why were you Googling at 11 o’clock at night? What is it that you heard that says Christian Tyrrell did this as opposed to Jessica Langlais? Nothing.”
On March 17, a Google search was made from the residence in the 1900 block of Cedar Tree Drive seeking information on how to tell when someone was brain dead, according to witness testimony. Another search sought information on the causes of a concussion, while another asked about toddlers not being able to walk or use their arms after hitting their heads.
According to testimony from Tyrrell on Wednesday, both he and Jessica were doing Google searches at the time.
“Both of these people had an opportunity, had time” Ray said. “So which one was it? Are we just going to flip a coin?”
Jessica Langlais took the stand briefly Friday, but only said that she would not testify on the grounds that she might say something incriminating.
“Before this man came into his life, there was no bruising on Adrian,” Boneberg said. “ A child’s talent to endure stems from his ignorance of the alternatives. And finally, Adrian was left without any alternatives. That child suffered long before a 911 call was made.”