First-degree murder trial underway in death of Baton Rouge toddler; pathologist says the boy’s injuries indicate a beating, not accident _lowres

Advocate Staff File Photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Cpl. Charles Dotson, left, and Cpl. LJean McKneely, right, escort Kimyia Stokes to a vehicle after she was arrested and charged with second-degree cruelty to a juvenile and accessory after the fact to first-degree murder on Oct. 25, 2011. Stokes is the mother of the 1-year-old deceased victim, Demarcus Stokes.

A Baton Rouge man's second-degree murder conviction and life prison term in the 2011 beating death of his girlfriend's 23-month-old son was affirmed Friday by a state appeals court.

Randy Demond Parker beat Demarcus Gray Stokes Jr. at Parker's Erie Street home because the child would not sit still for a haircut and after he urinated on himself, authorities have said. Parker was a convicted felon at the time.

Parker, 28, challenged the sufficiency of the evidence presented at his judge trial and also attacked his sentence, calling it excessive.

The state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal rejected his arguments on both issues. The evidence clearly established that the toddler was "severely abused," the appellate court said.

"By the defendant's own admission, he whipped the victim with a belt multiple times on the date of his death and punched him until he 'accidentally' hit the victim in his mouth," Circuit Judge Michael McDonald wrote for the court.

"Medical testimony at trial clearly established that the victim's death was caused by trauma to his head, trunk, and extremities. The medical testimony also indicated that there had been rapid movements taking place in the victim's head and brain," he added.

Parker waited to call 911 after realizing the boy was unconscious, McDonald noted.

Parker was convicted by state District Judge Trudy White in June 2015 and sentenced in September of that year. Kimyia Stokes, the boy's mother and Parker's girlfriend, pleaded guilty in December 2015 to obstruction of justice and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Stokes, 27, witnessed some of the beatings. She also faced a cruelty to a juvenile charge, but it was dismissed after her guilty plea.

Parker told detectives he was "full of alcohol" the night he punched the boy with a closed fist and continued to hit the child after he fell to the floor.

Stokes told investigators that Parker beat her son three times in less than 24 hours on Oct. 22 and Oct. 23, 2011. She said she observed two of the beatings and heard her son screaming during the third.

Dr. Bruce Wainer, the pathologist who performed Demarcus' autopsy, said the boy's injuries were no accident. He testified at Parker's trial that the toddler suffered bleeding under the scalp and on the surface of his brain. Wainer also found a considerable amount of bruising on the child's head, torso, arms and legs.

Prosecutors chose not to seek the death penalty against Parker, who stood trial on a first-degree murder charge, after receiving evidence that he was possibly intellectually disabled. The U.S. Supreme Court has barred intellectually disabled inmates from being executed.

Follow Joe Gyan Jr. on Twitter, @JoeGyanJr.