Brownwood capital murder trial Day 3: Defendant admits in video to accidentally killing baby
BROWNWOOD, Texas - "I thought I could save her. I wasn't trying to shake her head."
That's what Jekaris Bryant, the 19-year-old Brownwood man on trial for capital murder charges in the death of his 28-day-old daughter, told Texas Ranger Jason Shea during an interrogation shortly after the child's death.
Brown County prosecutors played video of the interrogation during the third day of Bryant's trial, saying he admitted to accidentally killing his baby.
According to Shea's testimony, Bryant said he fed his daughter, Breyla Ann, a few minutes before her death. When she began choking, Bryant said he became scared and started patting her and mildly shaking her.
Shea told the court he believes Bryant intentionally killed his baby.
Breyla was pronounced dead on Dec. 13, 2015 at Brownwood Regional Medical Center.
Bryant's defense team, led by Jud Woodley, says Bryant was trying to resuscitate his baby after she began choking on baby formula.
A slight deviation in proceedings happened next, as the defense was allowed to call a witness before the prosecution rested its case. The exception was made for an expert witness who needed to return on a flight to Georgia.
Kris Sperry, a forensic medical expert, disputed the state's claims that Breyla had severe diaper rash. He said on a scale of one to 10, he would rate her rash a three or four.
Sperry also said some of Breyla's bruises were from resuscitation efforts made at the hospital because they weren't noted when she arrived to the emergency room.
Dr. Pennissi Taylor, a Brownwood psychologist, also testified Thursday. She administered the forensic psychological evaluation on Bryant that District Judge Stephen Ellis ordered before considering whether to reduce Bryant's bond last year.
Taylor said Bryant's IQ test revealed his academic grade equivalency was between the third and seventh grade. As a result, Taylor said Bryant shouldn't have been left to care for the child alone.
Brown County Assistant District Attorney Elisha Bird called Jordon Brown, a 20-year-old close friend of Makahla Brewer, Breyla's mom, who was with them at the time of the alleged murder.
Brown told the court she fed Breyla that afternoon before she and Brewer left to go to Walmart to purchase baby formula. When Brown returned to Bryant's apartment, they noticed Breyla wouldn't wake up from her swing and had purple bruises on her chest.
Bird questioned Brown's testimony after inconsistencies arose between what she told prosecutors on Monday and what she told the court Thursday.
Judge Ellis hopes the trial will finish on Friday. Testimony resumes at 9 a.m.