Overturned life sentence in child’s death set at 18 years

Overturned life sentence in child’s death set at 18 years

A man once sentenced to life in prison for the 2012 death of his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter was up for a new trial Monday, Jan. 30, after the Ninth Court of Appeals found a trial court error. Prior to a new trial commencing, according to Jefferson County Assistant District Attorney Kim Hobbs Pipkin, the defendant accepted a plea agreement for 18 years in prison.

According to previous Examiner coverage, Stephen Demond Odom was indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury March 14, 2013, on two counts of injury to a child, one a first-degree and the other a second-degree felony. A probable cause affidavit asserted that Odom’s live-in girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter died while in the defendant’s custody in 2012.

“Subsequent autopsy revealed the child died as a result of complications of blunt force trauma of the abdomen,” the affidavit said. “Dr. Brown observed a laceration of the liver and severe injuries about the organs of the stomach.”

The doctor also noted some of the child’s injuries were older with a small amount of “fresh hemorrhage” around the child’s older stomach injuries.

“Dr. Brown stated the injuries were consistent with a blow to the stomach, a blow with a twisting of the fist, or a pressing in of the abdomen with a forceful twisting of the fist. The manner of death was ruled a homicide,” the affidavit said.

At least one witness — a young child — told police he was in his bedroom when he heard crying and said he peeked into the bathroom to check on the young girl, and that is when he saw Odom punch the toddler in the stomach, according to the affidavit.

Testimony regarding Odom’s refusal to take a polygraph ultimately resulted in the jury’s verdict – guilty with a life sentence attached – being tossed and a new trial ordered.

Pipkin said that the victim’s family has been through “a long, drawn-out ordeal” up to this point.

 

“Rather than trying the case again,” she said, the state entered into an agreed sentencing arrangement where Odom pleaded guilty to the charge he was initially found guilty of by a jury – injury to a child. According to Pipkin, Odom has been in state custody since April 2013 and will receive credit for the time he has been incarcerated to date. Additionally, since the charge is not a “3G” offense, Odom will be eligible for parole.

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