New Boston, Texas–A Texarkana teen was found guilty of capital murder Friday morning in the January beating death of a 2-year-old boy.
Clifford James Gayton Jr., 19, will serve life without the possibility of parole for beating Da’Corian Wright, the 28 pound son of his former live-in girlfriend, to death Jan. 27. A jury of five women and seven men handed down the guilty verdict shortly before noon. The jury also found Gayton guilty of third-degree injury to a child in connection with injuries sustained the same day by his younger sister. For that crime, the jury assessed a maximum 10-year term and a $10,000 fine. Gayton will serve the sentences concurrently, 102nd District Judge Bobby Lockhart ruled.
Witnesses testified Gayton was watching the children while their mother was at work from about 3 p.m. to after 9 p.m. Jan. 27. When paramedics arrived on scene in response to a 911 call placed at 12:23 a.m. Jan. 28, Da’Corian’s body was already stiff. A Dallas medical examiner who performed Da’Corian’s autopsy testified the injuries causing death must have occurred six to eight hours before help was summoned.
Da’Corian suffered bruising all over his small body, massive head injuries and tearing to his internal organs from blunt force trauma. Da’Corian and his sister showed signs that their genitals had been targeted in the attacks.
“What you’ve seen in this courtroom this week is horrific. I can’t imagine what those kids went through, their suffering at the hands of Clifford Gayton,” argued Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards in closing remarks. “He killed that baby.”
Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp and Richards refuted arguments from Texarkana lawyers Josh Potter and Eric Marks that someone else could’ve caused the fatal injuries to Da’Corian and the marks and bruising found on his sister.
Crisp reminded the jury of reluctant testimony given by Gayton’s twin sister Thursday. Gayton’s sister called police Dec. 3, 2015, approximately two months before Da’Corian was murdered, because Gayton had allegedly assaulted her and her 3-month-old baby when she attempted to stop Gayton from assaulting a 3-year-old relative.
“Nobody was there to intervene Jan. 27,” Crisp argued. “So we have a dead baby.”
Crisp said the case affected her and other officials deeply.
“The brutal and intentional killing of Da’Corian Wirght–and the horrific attack on his 1-year-old sister–profoundly affected every family member and law enforcement officer that participated in investigating and prosecuting this case,” Crisp said. “The successful prosecution of this case would not have been possible without the outstanding work and dedication of the Texarkana, Texas, Police Department. The patrol officers, crime scene technicians and detectives worked tirelessly to bring Gayton to justice and they deserve our thanks.”