Testimony ends; jury to get case Friday

Published 5:00 pm Thursday, September 20, 2012

The second and final day of testimony ended just after 3 p.m. Thursday in a capital murder case against Homer Herbert II.

During Thursday’s testimony, jurors heard from Stacey Turner, a forensic pathologist, in regard to injuries sustained by 2-year-old Intrina Johnson, prior to her death.

Turner said the cause of death was blunt force trauma and the injuries could have been inflicted in various ways.

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“It could have been from grabbing too tight,” Stacey said. “This autopsy and a shaken baby autopsy are not consistent. These injuries were similar with those to car wrecks. The cause of death is blunt force trauma – homicide is manner of death.”

Turner told jurors the infant had suffered three fractures in ribs, which were recent injuries. All fractures were on the right side with the right kidney showing injuries including a laceration or tear with four tears noted in the child’s liver. No injuries to the brain were found, she said.

Jurors also heard a taped interview of Herbert shortly after the child’s death. In the interview, conducted by members of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department, the defendant said the child had been dropped off at his house previously and had woken up “soaking with sweat” on the morning of the July 28, 2011 — the date of her death.

“She told me she was thirsty and asked for a drink of water,” Herbert said in the interview. She said she was sleepy and went back to sleep.”

The interview covered a period of time when the child was in Herbert’s care. The defendant admitted to picking up the child, but denied any physical abuse.

“I was not playing with the baby, but I did pick her up,” Herbert said. “I did shake her a little but when holding her up. I have not been punching on a child or anything. I only took care of them. I did shake her, but not to mess her up or abuse her. I did shake her with a tight grip. I did not shake her hard. I know I did not shake the hell out of this child. I loved this child like it was mine.”

Following testimony from family members of Herbert and the deceased child, both the defense and the prosecution rested in the case.

Closing arguments in the case will be heard Friday and the jury is expected to be released for deliberation.