It took a nine-woman, three-man jury panel three hours to decide that Russell Long and Jessica Adkins were responsible for their infant daughter’s death because they failed to provide medical care after Long inflicted injuries on the child.
Long, 26, was convicted of two counts of first degree felony murder — one involving child abuse and one involving child neglect — while Adkins, 23, was convicted of felony murder by child neglect.
Both were sentenced to life in prison after the jury returned its verdict around 6:15 p.m. Monday
Their daughter, Kaylie Trinity Adkins, lived 87 days and suffered for the last week of her life with broken ribs on the back of her rib cage — an indication she was squeezed — and skull fractures that caused her brain to bleed.
In closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Erin McArdle presented a dramatic display of how many bottles of formula Kaylie should have eaten — about 30 in five days — compared to how man she actually consumed — six bottles of two ounces or less and three bottles of a couple ounces each of Pedialyte.
“Kaylie was 87 days hold and she had a lot of abuse perpetrated on her body,” McArdle said. The baby started throwing up her formula on a Friday, the same day Long gave her a bath.
He eventually admitted that he dropped her while taking her out of the tub because she was slippery, and her head hit the edge of the tub.
Long told police that he picked Kaylie up and comforted her, but didn’t find any bumps or bruises on her head.
Later that same night, Kaylie rolled off the couch while Long was in the kitchen smoking a cigarette, he told police.
But officers didn’t get that information up front when they first began investigating Kaylie’s death.
Instead, Long first said he had no idea how Kaylie was injured, then he said he bumped her head on the tub, but not hard. The third version was that she rolled off the couch, then finally he told an investigator that he dropped her and she rolled off the couch.
From that point on, Kaylie could keep very little formula down and she began sleeping for long periods of time — sometimes up to 10 hours.
Prosecutors said Long and Adkins should have realized something was very wrong and taken their daughter to the hospital.
When police interviewed Adkins, she continued to insist that she thought Kaylie just had a stomach virus and it had to run its course. She denied any knowledge that her daughter had been dropped or rolled off the couch.
At one point when police were questioning the two, they allowed Adkins into the same room as Long.
Jurors watched the video showing the couple talking and Long saying he didn’t tell Adkins because he didn’t want her to think he was a bad father.
“If Russell Long dropped her like he said, why in the world would he not take her to the doctor,” McArdle said to the jury.
In Jim Bowman’s closing arguments on behalf of Adkins, he told the jury it came down to “what did she know and when did she know it.”
Bowman acknowledged that Adkins lied and mislead police when she told them she took Kaylie to the doctor. The appointment was actually for the couple’s older child and they took Kaylie with them.
Adkins gave police a detailed description of what she said her pediatrician did and the advice he gave her about Kaylie.
She claimed he looked at the girl and said it was probably a stomach virus.
Dr. Chris Leeds, however, denied having such a conversation with Adkins and said if he had looked at Kaylie it would have been documented.
He did testify he “vaguely” remembered being asked a hypothetical question about what to do if a baby was vomiting.
Bowman told the jury that Kaylie’s death was the result of poor decisions on Adkins’ part, not child neglect.
“She had to make judgments. Tragically the judgments she made were wrong, but to elevate those judgements to first degree murder is wrong,” Bowman said in his closings.
Apparently the jury didn’t see it that way or believe that Long’s actions were not intentional, as his attorney, Jeff Kelly, suggested.
After the jury foreman announced the panel’s verdict, the defense requested the jurors be polled individually. Judge Robert Cupp asked each person on the panel if their verdict was guilty, and each responded, “Yes.”
Once the verdict was read, Adkins put her face in her hands and cried. Long sat with no expression. When Cupp told them to stand and sentenced them to life, Adkins appeared to nearly collapse and leaned on her other attorney, Donna Bolton.
Cupp set an Oct. 25 hearing for a motion for new trial.