BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A jury has found a man guilty of killing his unborn child when he shot his wife, Kayla, four times in the back, leaving her paralyzed.
Frank Atkins was convicted of second-degree murder and attempted murder. A sentencing date has not yet been set. He faces life in prison.
Jurors deliberated only 40 minutes before finding Atkins guilty. Kayla Atkins was surrounded by family and friends moments after her husband was convicted.
Atkins shot his wife, Kayla, in 2012 when she was almost six months pregnant. One month after the attack, Kayla's daughter was prematurely born as a result of complications of the shooting, and died an hour later.
This fact resonated with one of the alternate jurors. "Her mom could not hold her for that time. Her mom watched her die. That was a human being that died as a direct result of Frank Atkins," Linda Freedman says.
She testified Thursday that as he approached the vehicle she was riding in just before the shooting, he yelled out, "You think I'm gonna just let you leave me?" Then, he started shooting, she told the jury.
But today Kayla rejoices. "I feel good. Very good. I'm glad that it's all over. I can sleep now. I'm glad that everything went well in court today," she says.
Kayla will feel the impact of the terrible shooting for the rest of her life. Her worst nightmare is not being able to hug her other two children.
"I can't really interact with my kids like I want to," she said. "I can't hold them and pick them up like I used to. My life has changed, but I can put that all behind me now."
Kayla and Frank had been having problems for some time. She had a restraining order against him for physical abuse. All the signs and symptoms were there.
"We need people in our community to help people that are in trouble. When they see that they are in harm's way, they need to come in and help her out. That didn't happen to her. That could have possibly saved her and her child's life," District Attorney Hillar Moore says.
And while Louise Hines notches her first conviction as lead prosecutor the factors still are what they are.
"There is no winners in this situation. Tragically a baby is lost, a lady is paralyzed, and a man's going to jail for the rest of his life," defense attorney Jarvis Antoine says.
Sentencing is set for October 2nd, one day before Kayla's birthday.