A Mendocino County jury Monday found a Fort Bragg man guilty in the beating death of his infant foster daughter, who’d suffered dozens of bruises as well as skull fractures and brain injuries.
After a short deliberation Monday morning the jury announced by 10:30 a.m. they’d convicted Wilson “Josh” Lee Tubbs III, 39, of causing great bodily injury leading to the death of 5-month-old Emerald Herriot, according to the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office.
The man has no criminal history and now faces a possible prison sentence of 25-years to life.
If Judge John Behnke gives the full sentence, it will be the same as if Tubbs had been convicted of murder, said Assistant District Attorney Paul Sequeira.
The District Attorney’s Office charged Tubbs with felony child abuse causing death instead of a murder charge because of the potential for a similar prison sentence while avoiding some of the complications of a murder trial, including the need to show intent and implied malice, said Sequeira in a release issued after the verdict was announced.
The charge filed against Tubbs was established by legislation in the 1990s to help with difficult prosecutions of people believed to have killed a child through abuse, Sequiera said.
Tubbs told the jury he’d loved the baby girl and hadn’t hurt her in any way. He also said he’d earlier lied when he told detectives he’d shaken and slapped her because he thought that’s what the detectives wanted to hear.
Sequeira presented the case against Tubbs. He told the jury that Tubbs’ changing explanations didn’t add up, including his final version that she’d suffered her injuries from a short fall from a bench.
The baby had more than 50 bruises on her face and head, two skull fractures, massive bleeding in her brain and bruises to an arm and her chest, according to testimony.
Testimony from physicians for the prosecution said that such a minor fall couldn’t have caused the injuries.
Testimony also included that some of the injuries apparently occurred earlier in the child’s short life.
Tubbs and his wife, Marte Tubbs, had been caring for the baby — the child of a relative — for about a month prior to her death.
She was flown to Children’s Hospital in Oakland on Dec. 2, 2012 after Tubbs brought her to Mendocino Coast District Hospital in Fort Bragg.