CONROE – Convicted child murderer Blaine Milam was sentenced to death late Thursday night in the slaying of 13-month-old Amora Carson.
As Judge Clay Gossett read the verdict, the jurors all had solemn faces. Milam stood with his attorneys surrounding him. His mother and sister sat behind him crying as each of the special issues jurors had to consider in the case was read and answered, resulting in the death penalty for Milam.
The defense requested the jury be polled, and as each juror was asked if the verdict read aloud was their verdict, each answered, “Yes.”
Milam’s family cried and hugged as Gossett thanked the jurors for their service and told them he knew it was a difficult case for them and because of the case and its difficulties the court had set up counseling for any of the jurors that might need the service.
Richard Mutina, Amora’s paternal grandfather, said Milam had shattered his family and that their memories were tainted by his vile acts.
Mutina said his daughter, Crystal, has had sleepless nights, and that his son, Amora’s father, was a hero serving his country in wartime.
“When you said in the interview with Texas Ranger Kenny Ray that my son couldn’t man up and take care of his daughter, he was serving his country so you could have the freedom to do the horrific things you did to Amora,” he said. “When Christmas time comes, the only time I will hear Amora’s name will be in Rusk County at the Angel Tree.
“No punishment that you have received will ever come close to the punishment she suffered for days on end.”
Sobbing, Mutina was led from the courtroom by an assistant district attorney.
Milam was led from the courtroom in shackles as his mother and sister huddled together crying.
Earlier, Milam had sat in the courtroom for hours as the six-man, six-woman jury deliberated his fate less than 25 feet from where he waited with his defense team.
At 9:45 p.m., Judge Clay Gossett called the jurors in and told them he was sequestering them for the night after a long day of deliberations.
Several of the jurors looked at each other before the foreman spoke up and said if Gossett would give them 15 minutes, they would have made their decision.
“We were about to wrap it up when you called us,” the foreman said.
The jury began deliberations at 1:38 p.m. Thursday.
Milam was convicted last week of murdering 13-month-old Amora Carson in Rusk County in December 2008.
Milam’s girlfriend, Jesseca Carson, the child’s mother, is being held in the Rusk County Jail, awaiting her capital murder trial, slated for next year.
Milam and Ms. Carson have said they thought that demons possessed the child, who died during an exorcism.
Rusk County District Attorney Micheal Jimerson, while addressing the court in closing arguments Thursday, said, “She just looked for someone to smile at. That’s how (Ms. Carson’s best friend) Crystal Zapata talked about her. She was not just a child to an unwed mother; she really was a gift.”
Jimerson told jurors they had to accept that Milam had done the horrible things to Amora and that went against humanity.
“You can’t look in those eyes and imagine the horror they suffered. You just can’t,” he said, pointing at a photograph of Amora.
Jimerson told the jurors they heard a lot about Milam and his life, his upbringing and even saw Milam in a video as a small child riding a pony.
Jimerson said Thursday was a day of justice and is the closest thing that Amora will ever have to Christmas.
“You had to be asking yourselves, ‘Where’s Amora’s pony ride?'” he said.
As Jimerson continued, several jurors grabbed tissues and began dabbing their eyes.
Jimerson told jurors to think about Milam as a registered sex offender who was able to murder a child.
“I submit to you that Amora’s fate was sealed when Blaine Milam and Jesseca Carson got together,” he said.
Lead defense attorney Rick Hagan then told the jury that Milam was the product of his own family pushing him into drug use, and the methamphetamines he took caused delusions and paranoia.
Hagan turned the rest of the defense argument over to team member Stephen Jackson, who called Milam, “a very simple person, a very extraordinarily unintelligent person.”
Jackson told jurors it was never proven that Milam murdered the child or if he was just a party to Ms. Carson killing the child.
He told jurors if they believed Milam was only a party, then they could not sentence him to death. He added that Milam would not have access to children in prison.
Jackson also called Milam a product of his environment, from his parents not making him go to school to the family’s addiction problems.
“Blaine Milam is the reason for our system and why we don’t say guilty, death penalty,” Jackson said. “Is this the kid that needs to die?”
But Texas Attorney General Prosecutor Lisa Tanner said she could not think of a more deserving person than Milam to receive the death penalty.
“I thought I had seen everything. I thought I had seen meanness and I even thought I had seen evil. I have stood before juries and told them they had seen the worst of the worst and I believed it at the time.” she said.
Hagan objected, saying Ms. Tanner was interjecting her own opinion into the case and not evidence.
Gossett sustained the objection and Ms. Tanner continued, saying the jurors should have never had to see what they had in the case, and Amora should never have had to endure what she did during her death.
“This is the worst of the worst. I can’t even fathom how it could ever get any worse,” she said.
Raising her voice and with her eyes red from tears, Ms Tanner asked how the jury could possibly find mitigating circumstances to sentence Milam to life.
Showing a photograph of Amora’s body Ms. Tanner asked, “What could possibly mitigate this? Or this?” she said, clicking to another photograph. “Or this, or this, or this? How can there really be any mitigating circumstances that could be sufficient for that? There isn’t.”
Members of Amora’s family in the audience and members of the jury began crying with each photograph shown.
story courtesy of the Tyler Morning Telegraph-Kenneth Dean