DERIDDER, LA (KPLC-TV) – Jeffrey Denby said he was "sorry" and "very" scared on Friday, after jurors found him guilty of first-degree murder in the June 2009 death of an 18-month-old toddler.
Denby, 25, is now likely to spend the rest of his life behind bars. His formal sentencing is scheduled for May 27th.
By a vote of 10-2, jurors did not buy Denby's defense that he momentarily lost control and beat the young tot but did not intend to kill him. Jurors reached their verdict after two and a half hours of deliberation.
Prosecutors said the most damaging pieces of evidence against Denby were the two video-taped interviews he gave to Beauregard Parish detectives, in which he admitted to slapping, throwing and hitting the toddler.
"Two-taped confession, it's kind of hard for him to overcome that and change that now," said Beauregard Parish Assistant District Attorney Richard Morton.
Denby's attorney, Tony Bennett, was hoping jurors would find his client guilty of a lesser charge, such as manslaughter, if they didn't find him "not guilty."
"It's a tragic case. There are no winners in this case," said Bennett. "I'm just thankful I was not on the jury to have to make that decision."
Over the last three days, jurors heard testimony from eight witnesses and examined photographs of John Thomas "J.T." Anthony Brewer, which were taken moments after his mother, Holly Brewer, rushed him to the Beauregard Memorial Hospital. During closing arguments, the state also showed a clip of the toddler hooked up to machines, clinging to life in the hospital.
The great-grandfather of the "J.T," Bill Brewer, was in the courtroom when the verdict was read. Brewer said the last year has been very difficult for his family.
"No one should be subjected to the treatment J.T. received, especially not an innocent child," said Brewer, who visited the child's grave site after the verdict.
Brewer said he has disowned his granddaughter, the tot's mom, Holly. Brewer said Holly is just as responsible for the death of "J.T."
Brewer said Friday's verdict will give his family some closure, but he adds, "We'll never really have full closure."
Holly Brewer is charged with accessory after the fact to second-degree child cruelty. Her trial is scheduled for June 21st.
No known family members of Denby's attended his trial. In the video-taped interviews, Denby said both of his parents were dead and that he did not get along with his step-siblings. Denby's wife, Miranda, is currently in a relationship with Paul Hillard, one of the state's witnesses and a former roommate of Jeff's.