A jury of seven men and five women Friday will resume deliberating the murder case against Shane Eric Hinkson after attorneys made their closing arguments Thursday about the death of Hinkson’s 8-month-old son in January 2012.
Jurors began deliberating at 2:45 p.m. Thursday and stopped at 5 p.m., though they spent part of that time reviewing a video recording of Hinkson’s interview with police the New Year’s Day his then-fiance rushed their child to St. Francis Hospital with a severe head injury. The boy named Alexander Cabanayan died at a pediatric trauma center in Atlanta on Jan. 6, 2012.
Attorneys presented the jury with two competing scenarios in their closings:
The defense claimed that if Hinkson injured his son, he did so purely by accident, and may have only exacerbated an existing ailment the child sustained elsewhere.
The prosecution maintained the evidence that Hinkson deliberately threw the child down in a fit of anger was clear, as was his failure to seek immediate medical care when he discovered the baby was hurt.
“If only the defendant had called 911,” prosecutor William Hocutt IV told jurors. Instead Hinkson called the baby’s mother, Jennifer Cabanayan, who was working at Peachtree Mall, and told her “something bad had happened” and she needed to come to his Antietam Drive apartment.
She did not have a car, and had to have a coworker drive her there. Testimony showed Hinkson called her at 1:55 p.m. and she got to the hospital an hour later.
If “every second matters” in a medical emergency, then think how many Hinkson wasted, Hocutt said: “The defendant delayed hundreds if not thousands of seconds.”
Defense attorney David Wolfe said what happened to the baby was nothing more than an accident that led to criminal charges.“You’ve heard the expression ‘you can indict a ham sandwich.’ The real expression is, ‘you can indict a ham sandwich for killing the pig,’” Wolfe told jurors, later adding, “There is nothing ‘grand’ about a ‘grand jury.’ I want you to know that.”
Wolfe said prosecutors were alleging Hinkson grabbed the baby under the chin and slammed him onto a bed: “That’s their theory now. That’s the thing they’re going to try to prove to you.”
The attorney said he had two children he used to throw up in the air and catch, and toss onto a bed. He looks at Hinkson and thinks, “There but for the grace of God go I,” he said.
He reiterated his theory that the infant would have survived had he got adequate emergency care at a level-1 trauma center — which Columbus does not have — but doctors at St. Francis Hospital failed to maintain the baby’s oxygen flow, accelerating his rapid decline.
He told jurors they had to find Hinkson not guilty if this resulted from an accident, and “that is precisely what we have here.”
Said Hocutt: “This was no accident. He intended to hurt that child.” Hinkson was angry because his fiancé went out with friends on New Year’s Eve and left him with the child, who wouldn’t stop crying as the parents overnight exchanged 79 heated text messages.
“He was stewing and stewing and stewing,” Hocutt said. “He picked that baby up right here and slammed him on the bed. He kept doing it until that baby shut up, because he was tired of that baby crying.”
He referred to remarks Hinkson made later to police. Then an Army sergeant, Hinkson had returned from service in Iraq about a year earlier, and he was finding it hard to sleep and to control his temper.
In his recorded interview with police, he made remarks such as, “I got angry,” “I just lost it,” and “Sometimes I can’t control myself,” Hocutt noted, asking jurors, “Does that sound like an accident?”
Of Wolfe’s claiming emergency room staff failed to maintain the baby’s oxygen flow, Hocutt countered that testing during the child’s treatment showed no drop in his oxygen levels.
The prosecutor noted also that three doctors testified the child died of abusive head injury, and even a physician testifying for the defense agreed that slamming a baby down on a bed could cause such trauma.
The jury must render a verdict on each of the five counts Hinkson’s charged with: malice or intentional murder; felony murder for allegedly killing the baby while committing aggravated assault; felony murder for allegedly killing the child while committing first-degree child cruelty; aggravated assault; and first-degree child cruelty.
The jury is to resume deliberating the case at 9 a.m. in Judge Frank Jordan Jr.’s Government Center court.