Raleigh man found guilty in toddler's death
Posted February 27, 2009 11:57 a.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:13 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — A Raleigh man found guilty in the death of his girlfriend's 2-year-old son last year will spend the rest of his life in jail.
A jury on Friday convicted DonJuan Cassadary Smith Jr., 25, of first-degree murder in the May 14 death of Charvis "Junior" Dublin Jr.
An autopsy found that Dublin died from blunt force trauma and had 41 bruises on his body.
Smith, who admitted in court this week that he is a member of a local gang, testified he left the boy in a bathtub full of water while he went to make a marijuana deal.
He originally told investigators that when he returned, he thought the child had drowned. During the trial, he said he believes that someone else killed Dublin and that his gang involvement might have been a factor.
"The defendant got on (the witness stand) and said he did not do it," defense attorney George Kelly said. "I felt he probably needed to do that – to tell the jury he did not do it, or he didn't have a chance to begin with."
Dublin was not breathing when Smith took him to a neighbor's house to call 911. In that call, Smith told dispatchers that he had given the child some pizza and gave him a bath when he started throwing up.
The neighbor performed CPR until emergency personnel arrived at her home. Dublin was pronounced dead a short time later.
Dublin's father, Charvis Dublin Sr., said he thought Smith's sentence should have been harsher.
"I'm not pleased with life," he said. "I think he should die."
Wake County Assistant District Attorney Colleen Janssen said there were no aggravating factors that would have allowed the state to seek the death penalty.
With the trial now behind them, family members say they will hold onto their memories of the boy.
"He was a happy baby. He smiled all the time. Nothing got him upset," his aunt, Lashawnta Campbell, said. "He was always happy and joyful."