Man accused in toddler’s death appears on capital murder charge

Clifford James Gayton, 18, of Texarkana Texas

An 18-year-old Texarkana man could face the death penalty in the January beating death of a 2-year-old boy.

Clifford James Gayton appeared with Texarkana attorney Josh Potter for a pre-indictment hearing before 102nd District Judge Bobby Lockhart Wednesday morning. Gayton was recently arrested in connection with the death of 2-year-old Da’Corian Wright.

Da’Corian was pronounced dead Jan. 28 at his mother’s home on Elizabeth Street in Texarkana, Texas, after his mother found him unresponsive and called 9-1-1. Gayton was arrested a few days later on a charge of capital murder.

Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp said she expects the case to go before a grand jury this month. If the grand jury indicts Gayton for capital murder, the state must decide whether to seek the death penalty or a sentence of life without the possibility of parole, the only two punishments available for capital murder for adults under Texas law.

Crisp said she believes the state will have a better idea of its stance on punishment for Gayton at his next court hearing in April.

Da’Corian suffered blunt force trauma severe enough to tear some of his internal organs, according to a probable cause affidavit. The medical examiner who performed the child’s autopsy reported bruising on the baby’s face, torso and pelvis.

Gayton is currently in Bowie County custody. His bail is set at $2 million.

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