Jury gives Lufkin man life sentence in child's murder

Jury gives Lufkin man life sentence in child's murder
Zikeishun Lane
Zikeishun Lane

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A jury has given a Lufkin man a life sentence in connection to the beating death of a three-year-old boy.

The same jury found Kerry Jock Woodard, 29, guilty of murder earlier in the day.

The jury began deliberating the verdict around 11 a.m. They came back with a verdict around 1:20 p.m.

The sentencing phase took about another hour for testimony and 30 minutes for the jury to come back with the punishment.

"The death of a child is a horrible, horrible tragedy there is no justice, what we accomplished here is second best," said Art Baueriss, prosecuting attorney.

Closing arguments began Monday with the prosecution urging the jury to focus solely on the defendant, Kerry Jock Woodard, 29.

"During the course of this trial you've heard different names and testimonies, but the focus today is Kerry Woodard," Bauereiss said.

Bauereiss told jurors that the evidence shows there was a pattern of abuse and doctors testified that Zikeishun Lane was beaten on several occasions. Bauereiss said Woodard had the opportunity because he was unemployed and spent most of his time at home.

"You had a pretty tragic instance here where a lot of people probably had the opportunity to intervene for this little boy and maybe could have averted these serious consequences and I they didn't," said Baueriss.

Defense Attorney Al Charanza immediately shifted the focus to the child's mother, Valerie Mosby, saying that she gave three or four inconsistent statements to law enforcement, and that in a moment of grief, she admitted to throwing Zikeishun on the couch.

Medical experts testified that Zikeishun most likely died from a blow to the head, Charanza urged jurors. Charanza told jurors the couch throwing incident was just one of many occasions of abuse.

"You can not look at the case in one event, the whole case is more than December 6th," Charanza said.

Charanza told jurors that because of his status as a sex offender Woodard, was rarely around Kittenish, and when he was, Valerie Mosby was there.

Charanza told jurors that Valerie Mosby is to blame, adding that mothers sometime get overwhelmed, and Valerie Mosby might have taken her anger and frustration out on Zikeishun.

The prosecution responded to the abusive characterization of Valerie Mosby with medical records showing she took the child to the doctor regularly and that there were no signs of abuse.

"The common denominator isn't Valerie Mosby, it's Woodard," Bauereiss said.

Also Friday, District Judge Barry Bryan of the 217 Judicial District Court reduced the charge against Woodard. Instead of capital murder, the charge is now first-degree murder. Earlier in the week, jurors saw graphic photos taken during Zikeishun's autopsy that showed the serious bruising to his body.

Woodard is accused of causing multiple injuries to the child, including a lacerated liver, a contusion on the lung, hemorrhages in the eyes and spinal cord, subdural hematomas of the brain, and more than 100 documented bruises and scrapes on the 3-year-old's  head, torso, legs, and arms.

It happened while Woodard was watching the child while the mother was working. Zikeishun was originally treated for the injuries at a Lufkin hospital in December 2010, and he later died at a Houston hospital.

Zikeshun's family is pleased with the verdict and relieved the trial is finally over.

"I'm at rest right now and I know closure has been done for my child on this side. If I continue to keep my soul anchored in Jesus, my child is no longer in my past, he is in my future," Zachary Lane, Zikeshun's father, said.

After the verdict, the grandmother said, "I'm just overwhelmed that justice has been served, and I'm very, very, very glad."

The father of the child is more than thankful for everyone who worked the murder case.

He said, "I give a big thanks to Mr. Art Bauereiss and Officer David Hill and so many others who has something to do with this case. And I thank God that justice has been served for my child."

Woodard does have the option to appeal his sentence. His lawyer would have to file a complaint in Tyler, then the state will have the opportunity to respond.

Copyright 2012 KTRE. All rights reserved.