VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - A Virginia Beach jury found a man guilty of felony charges Thursday after his ex-girlfriend's child died in his care last year.
24-year-old Jerrell Cortez Edwards was found guilty of second degree felony murder and child abuse, according to Macie Pridgen with the Virginia Beach Commonwealth's Attorney's Office.
Pridgen said during a three-day trial, the Commonwealth's evidence proved Edwards injured his girlfriend's son to the point of causing death on April 5 of last year.
The girlfriend, LaQuita Lewis left 2-year-old Jaidan Lewis in Edwards care in military housing at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek for a few hours while she attended a college class. When she returned, she found Edwards attempting CPR on the boy, who was bleeding from the mouth and unresponsive.
EMS transported Jaidan to Sentara Bayside Hospital where he was pronounced dead within hours.
A medical examination proved the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the abdomen; a ruptured stomach and liver caused the fatality. Other injuries found on Jaidan's body included the following:
- bruises and lacerations to connective tissue in the abdomen
- bruising of the large intestine, pancreas and left lung
- bruising and laceration at the transverse coon
- multiple bruises to the left side of his face and head
- a bruise to the right side of his face
- abrasions to both cheeks, pattern marks consistent with adult fingernail gouging
- bilateral bruised rib muscles
- lacerations to his upper and lower lip
- a rigid and swollen abdomen due to fluid and gasses in the abdomen
Days after his arrest, in a jailhouse interview with WAVY.com, Edwards said he changing Jaidan's diaper when the little boy popped up and cut his mouth on Edwards' watch. He explained he then held Jaidan's mouth under running water in a bathtub several times to rinse off the blood.
"I picked him up to go rinse his mouth out," Edwards told WAVY.com in 2012. "I don't know if I held him under the water too long or what, but honestly I did not mean to hurt him."
Afterwards, Edwards said he put the two-year-old on the couch with a bottle of water to watch TV and went to another room to video chat with an ex-girlfriend. When he returned, he said Jaidan wasn't breathing.
"What the hell happened? I honestly don't know," Edwards told WAVY.com. "I walked in the room and his eyes were (expletive) open with throw up on his chest."
Edwards never admitted to beating Jaidan. He told WAVY.com he was the only adult at home with the boy that night and did not know if he was responsible for his death. He apologized to Jaidan's parents during the interview.
"In here, I know the truth," Edwards told WAVY.com at the jail. "I've prayed and cried since it happened."
When asked what the truth was, Edwards answered, "I did not do it on purpose. If it happened, if I was the one who was the result of that, I did not do it on purpose."
On Thursday, the jury recommended Edwards serve 30 years in prison for the offenses. Circuit Court Judge H. Thomas Padrick will formally sentence Edwards on December 9.
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