Jury finds mother guilty of murder, cruelty to a juvenile for role in baby's death

Jury finds mother guilty of murder, cruelty to a juvenile for role in baby's death

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A jury in East Baton Rouge Parish has found Ashley Heard, 30, of Baton Rouge guilty of second-degree murder and second-degree cruelty to a juvenile in connection with the 2013 death of her 11-month-old daughter, Aaliyah.

The second-degree murder charge carries a life-sentence. Heard will be officially sentenced on October 21.

"No one wins at the end of these trials," said Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Barrios. "There's nothing that could ever bring back this 11-month-old and what happened to her is horrible and while justice has been done, it's never going to bring her back."

Jurors got the case just after 5:30 p.m. Thursday. The 12-person, all-white jury deliberated for about three hours before announcing their verdict.

Heard was visibly upset as the verdict was read. Defense attorney Robert Tucker patted her on the back while she appeared to tear up and silently sob.

In the last day of testimony, prosecutors showed graphic autopsy photos of Aaliyah which showed deep bruising to the child's face and a large burn mark on her leg. The burn mark was a big as a golf ball, and the child also had broken bones.

Heard appeared to cry as photos were displayed on a large TV screen in the court room.

In her closing arguments, Barrios said that Heard was indeed ultimately responsible for the child's death by allowing obvious abuse at the hands of her boyfriend and the child's purported father Larry Laflore.

"How could she not know? Who let him into that home? Who aided and abetted him? Who served her daughter up to him?" she said. "Animals protect their children more that this woman did."

Tucker countered that his client's boyfriend is the one who killed the 11-month-old because he rejected the child.

"This is a sensation case," he said. "Every single witness that came up on this stand said it was Larry Laflore, every last one of them."

Laflore is charged with first-degree murder in this case but has yet to stand trial.

Investigators reported the baby was found with cigarette burns, bruises and cuts on her body. Investigators said she was unresponsive when she was taken to Baton Rouge General Mid-City by EMS.

Officers said she was later transferred to Baton Rouge General Bluebonnet where she died. Authorities said the cause of death was blunt force head trauma.

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