Teen accused of murdering toddler found competent to stand trial

Clifford James Gayton, 18, of Texarkana Texas

A 19-year-old Texarkana man accused of beating a toddler to death in January at his home in Texarkana, Texas, has been found competent to stand trial.

Bowie County Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp made the announcement Wednesday morning at a pretrial hearing for Clifford James Gayton Jr. Gayton faces multiple charges, including capital murder, in the death of little Da’Corian Wright. The state previously announced it won’t seek the death penalty because of Gayton’s age and lack of criminal history. That means Gayton will receive an automatic sentence of life without parole if convicted of capital murder.

Da’Corian suffered blunt force trauma so severe as to rip internal organs, according to a probable cause affidavit. Gayton is facing a capital murder charge as he was the only adult with access to the boy when his injuries occurred. Gayton faces lesser charges of murder and injury to a child as well.

A charge of third degree injury to a child involves injuries Gayton’s baby sister was found to suffer from when authorities were called to the home Gayton shared with the children’s mother Jan. 29. The couple had lived together just a couple of months when Da’Corian’s mom came home from work. The mother reportedly found the toddler cold and lifeless when she checked on him.

Gayton’s lawyer, Josh Potter of Texarkana, and Crisp told Lockhart they are working on compiling medical records of Gayton’s but that a recent evaluation by a local psychologist gave the opinion he is fit to stand trial mentally. The case is scheduled for a Nov. 1 trial at the Bowie County courthouse in New Boston, Texas.

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