Verona man sentenced to life

TUPELO – Christopher Brandon of Verona was found guilty of depraved-heart murder Friday in the death of his girlfriend’s child.
The Circuit County jury took about three hours to return the verdict after four days of testimony. Judge James S. Pounds sentenced Brandon to life in prison.
Brandon, 30, was charged with shaking to death his live-in girlfriend’s 15-month-old son, Xavier Staples, in June 2007.
Depraved-heart murder is causing the death of someone so recklessly that it shows complete lack of regard for human life.
Closing arguments began at 10:30 a.m. Friday with Assistant District Attorneys David Daniel and Paul Gault describing Brandon as a man who violently shook the child to death and tried to cover it up with claiming Xavier fell off a bed.
“The bed was 29 inches from the carpeted floor,” Daniel told the jury while showing a picture of the bedroom. “Every doctor here told you that it would be impossible to fall from that far and sustain those types of injuries. It is insulting that the defense would think you’d believe such a thing.”
Defense attorney Nicole Clinkscales of Columbus told the jury Brandon was the child’s protector and his mother was actually the person who shook the baby and left him with Brandon while she went to work.
“Chris is a good country boy,” Clinkscales told the jury. “Country people love kids, they are used to kids. Chris was the one who had to rescue Xavier from his own mother.”
Honoring Pounds’ instructions for order, the courtroom was quiet when he spoke the word guilty. But as they began to exit the courtroom, Brandon’s supporters wept and criticized the verdict.
Said one man as he consoled a weeping woman: “They had their minds made up before he even sat down.”
Neither family wanted to comment on the case.
Brandon was immediately ordered into the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.

Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal