FLORENCE, Ala. (TCD) -- A jury found a 23-year-old woman guilty of killing her boyfriend's son by beating him to death with a blunt object.
WHNT-TV reports Yalrick Zeonsha Pride was found guilty of murder for the 2020 death of 3-year-old Kaiden Garner. Her boyfriend and Garner's father, Blake Townsend, pleaded guilty to child abuse and was sentenced to life in prison in exchange for testifying against Pride, according to WAFF-TV.
On Aug. 12, 2020, at 11:25 p.m., Florence Police officers were called to the North Alabama Medical Center regarding Garner's death. Police said officials initially "believed that Kaiden's death was possibly due to heat exposure," but further investigation showed the little boy died from blunt force trauma.
According to Florence Police, Garner had been staying with Townsend in the few days preceding his death. On the night he died, Townsend was near the 1300 block of Carver Circle, which is a "common gathering place for members of the community."
Townsend and Pride were arrested in September 2020. Townsend was initially charged with capital murder and Pride with child abuse, but that got upgraded to capital murder in May.
WAFF reports at the trial, Townsend testified that he witnessed Pride hit Garner with a belt. Pride's brother also spoke at the trial and said he saw her "whoop" the boy with a belt in the past. Pride, however, argued she never abused Garner. Police found two belts in Pride's living room, one of which was ripped in half.
WHNT reports rigor mortis had set in by the time police and paramedics arrived, and he had bruises all over his body. Townsend reportedly confessed to hitting his son in the abdomen, but Garner had other trauma-related injuries to his head, torso, and other parts of his body.
The indictment cited by WHNT says Townsend beat Garner, which caused a "laceration of the child's liver, other internal injuries, and external injuries, and the death of said child."
Assistant District Attorney Angie Hamilton told WAFF she was "ecstatic" about the conviction.
She added, "Today, I saw healing. I saw smiles. I know that they are going to visit Kaiden this afternoon and be able celebrate him and finally release him."