A twenty-year old Lake Cherokee, Texas woman has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for her role in the gruesome assault and beating death of her thirteen-month old daughter.
Jesseca Carson was found guilty of capital murder in a unanimous jury decision relating to the December 2008 death of her daughter, Amora. Carson's boyfriend, Blaine Milam, is on death row for beating Amora to death with a hammer in what he claimed to be an exorcism. While it was Milam who actually beat the infant to death, Carson was conicted for aiding and abetting the crime.
In the often-graphic testimony presented to the jury, prosecutors described Carson as a woman who "sacrificed her child to a monster". Members of the jury reacted with gasps at pictures of Amora's beaten body which were shown during the trial. Several jury members later commented that they would be permanently affected by the testimony which was presented.
While defence attorneys attempted to portray her as someone dominated by an abusive boyfriend who convinced her that her daughter was possessed by a demon, prosecutors maintained that the exorcism was Carson's idea. It remains unclear what had led Carson and Milam to decide that Amora was possessed and their "exorcism" involved repeatedly striking the infant with a hammer and other tools. There were also repeated bite marks on Amora's body which had been reportedly inflicted while Milam "screamed Jesus' name" to drive out the demons. After Amora was dead, Carson and Milam left the body on their bedroom floor while they went to a pawn shop to raise money for a professional exorcist.
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Police were called in and found Amora's body at the home where she had lived with her mother and stepfather. According to one police source, "the child had been beaten so much we couldn’t tell how many times she had been hit. And then she had more than 20 bite marks on her body". Although Milam and Carson repeatedly changed their story over how Amora died, Jessica Carson finally confessed the truth although she maintained that the exorcism had been necessary.
Blaine Milam had been previously convicted of aggravated sexual assault on a fourteen-year old but had not been registered as a sex offender at the time of Amora's murder. His probation order banned him from any contact with children outside his own family. Friends of Jesseca Carson state that she had become increasingly withdrawn in the months leading up to Amora's death and that police had been called to their home of several previous occasions over allegations of domestic violence.