By Daniel Silliman
After seven days of evidence in the trial of a man accused of a brutal baby murder, the prosecution and the defense attorneys told jurors what they thought the case was really all about.
Prosecutor John Turner stood up in his black cowboy boots and said it was really about the simple intersection of two indisputable and circumstantial facts: Philanders Lamont Bowie was the only one around Makayla Denise Valley when the little girl died.
"When you scrap all the [expletive] away, he was with the child for five hours, when the child died. The child died when she was alone with him," Turner said Thursday morning.
Bowie was allegedly upset to be baby-sitting, angry the year-and-a-half-old girl was crying, and beat her until her brain began to bleed, her liver ruptured, her stomach filled with blood, and her body was covered in bruises.
"The child suffered and suffered horribly," Turner said. "We're not talking about someone just punching this baby. We're talking about someone brutalizing this baby."
However, defense attorney Steve Frey told a more complicated story. He stood up and told the jury that Bowie was a 27-year-old simpleton, a pathetic idiot, who was manipulated into lying for his girlfriend, and confessing for the cops.
"This is a horrible tragedy," Frey told the jury. "I'm not here to suggest this is anything other than what you think it is. This is, by God's law, the absolute worst thing that could happen. Don't compound this by sending the wrong person, convicting the wrong person."
The evidence against Bowie included the child's mother, Candace Jakes, saying the child did not have any bruises at 5 p.m., on July 6, 2007; the medical examiner saying the child could not have survived the fatal injuries for more than a few hours; Bowie reporting the child dead at about 10 p.m.; and Bowie confessing to getting frustrated, and said he "threw the child into the chair," "just tossing her around."
Turner said there was no reasonable reason to doubt Bowie is guilty. "He's anything but a simpleton or an idiot. What he is, is guilty as hell."
Frey found formidable problems with all the evidence, though. Bowie confessed after the police detective told him 52 times the death was an "accident," and nothing would happen to him or Jakes if he admitted to an accident. The medical examiner found the child suffered chronic and ongoing abuse, stretching back before Bowie's baby-sitting stint. Jakes denied seeing the bruises on the baby, which had to be there according to the autopsy, and then later admitted to seeing at least some of the bruises and admitted to hitting the child, "probably with an open hand."
Jakes has not been charged, but parts of the seven-day trial seemed to completely centered around the 27-year-old airport gate agent. During closing arguments, the prosecution argued Jakes did not have a motive, and the defense argued she should be standing trial.
"She's a liar," Frey told the jury. "Did she do this? I don't know, but the question is, why would you lie?"
Jakes, sitting in the audience during closing arguments, as the jury looked at poster-sized pictures of her dead child, calmly ignored the attack, and applied lip balm to her lips.
Both attorneys went for an emotion note, in their final attempts to sway jurors.
Frey said if jurors voted to convict, they would someday later feel "a cold chill," and have to ask themselves, "My God, what if that poor fool didn't do it?"
Turner said Valley is in a dark grave on a hillside, today, waiting to be delivered and justified by this Clayton County jury.
"The last thing that's gong to be said about this baby is your verdict," he said. "Let this baby rest in peace."
The arguments ended a little after noon, Thursday. As of 4:45 p.m., the jurors were still deliberating. If they find Bowie guilty, he faces a possible sentence of life in prison.