The Georgia Supreme Court has upheld the life-without-parole sentence given to a man in Laurens County for the 2005 child abuse murder of a 17-month-old baby girl.
Jaworski Dune Kellam, described as a "friend" of the child's mother, was babysitting A'Trevia Davis while her mother was at work. The mother said her child appeared healthy and well the morning of Aug. 17, 2005, when she left A'Trevia at home in Kellam's care, as she had done the day before.
Kellam, 26, later told the mother and others he had been playing with the baby, bouncing her up and down and throwing her on the bed, then left her in the room so she could nap, according to a case summary.
He said that when he returned she would not wake up and her eyes were rolled back in her head. About 10 that morning, Kellam knocked on a neighbor's door, saying the baby was not breathing. The neighbor returned with Kellam to the home and said he found the child "slightly breathing." Trained in administering CPR to children, the neighbor tried to revive the baby but to no avail. The neighbor, Kellam and a cousin of the baby's mother then rushed her to Fairview Park Hospital in Dublin.
Resuscitation efforts failed and A'Trevia was pronounced dead. When nurses asked him if A'Trevia had fallen off the bed, Kellam said no.
The nurses noted injuries to the baby's wrist and neck and that the child's abdomen had started to swell. They also observed fresh abrasions that had likely occurred within the hour. As a result, they called the sheriff's department to investigate.
At trial, the GBI medical examiner who performed the autopsy testified she had found recent injuries to the baby's face and neck and bruising around her abdomen. The internal examination revealed bleeding within the abdomen, severe injuries to the child's liver and hemorrhaging
around her kidneys and stomach.
The medical examiner testified the baby had lost about 20 percent of her blood, and concluded that the severity of the injuries to her abdomen were caused by a "tremendous" amount of blunt force, consistent with having been punched by a clinched fist, severely kicked, or having been in a car wreck.
Following a two-day trial, where Kellam did not testify, the jury convicted him of murder and cruelty to children. Under the state's "three strikes you're out" law, he was sentenced as a repeat offender to life without the possibility of parole.
Kellam's attorney argued that the trial judge was wrong to deny his request to instruct the jury on his defense that what had happened to the baby was an accident.
Kellam's attorney also argued on appeal that the trial court failed to instruct jurors that they could consider him guilty instead of the less serious charge of involuntary manslaughter.