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Jury deliberations underway in toddler murder trial

By Mehgaan Jones

mjones@news-daily.com

A Clayton County father, on trial for murder in the death of his son, has testified he knew his child was severely injured last year, but said he had nothing to do with the toddler's death.

"I did not kill my son, I love my son," Jamall Decarlos Mathis, 20, testified Wednesday, in Clayton County Superior Court.

Mathis' declaration was part of the some of the last testimony jurors heard, as they began deliberating his fate in connection with the death of his 17-month-old son, Ja'Mari Myckahi Jones. The toddler died on Sept. 17, 2009.

The warrant resulting in Mathis' arrest charged: "The accused did maliciously cause Jamari Jones, a child under 18, cruel [and] excessive physical and mental pain, by hitting him about his head and body with a blunt object and/or his hands ..."

On Tuesday, Deputy Chief Examiner for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Dr. Lora Darrisaw, said that when she conducted the autopsy on the child, he had patterned marks on his body, which may have been caused by a bat.

Mathis testified that, the night of Sept. 16, the child bumped his head from an alleged fall off of the bed. He said, after the alleged fall, he put ice on the child's head, and put him to bed. He added that the child seemed okay at the time.

Mathis and Tyasia Jones, the toddler's mother, were on the phone from 11 p.m., until 3 a.m., after which Mathis went to sleep, argued defense attorney, Leon Hicks. Mathis said that the next morning he found the child not breathing. The toddler eventually died at Children's Hospital at Egleston, in Atlanta.

During the trial there was testimony from a deputy chief medical examiner with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, that the toddler's injuries were not consistent with a fall.

"Jamall is a man who killed a child so that he could live as he wished," said Executive Assistant District Attorney, Lalaine Briones, in closing arguments to jurors. He asked them to convict Mathis of battery, murder, aggravated assault, aggravated battery and child cruelty.

"This was a calculated murder...quite frankly," said Briones. Mathis did not want to pay child support and did not want the responsibility of raising his son so "he did away with the child." According to the prosecution , Mathis was receiving Social Security benefits after his father passed away, and he knew he would have to give the money to Ja'Mari Jones.

Defense attorney Hicks, told jurors "none of the testimonies given lines up with another."

Hicks said that Mathis' mother, Barbara Washington, was sleeping in a room close to the bathroom, where the prosecution said the incident occurred. He added that Washington would have heard the sound of a bat hitting the child, along with the other members of the home.

"The indictment says nothing about bats...it says objects that are unknown," Hicks added. "Lacerations were inconsistent with being struck with a bat," contended Hicks.

Jury deliberations are scheduled to continue today, at 9 a.m. with Judge Deborah Benefield presiding.