A Columbia man convicted of second-degree murder and child abuse in the beating of his 2-year-old stepson was sentenced to 60 years in prison yesterday.
Marcus D. Owens, 33, was found guilty in June of killing the child - whom a doctor and state medical examiner earlier testified had injuries similar to those seen in serious car crashes or falls from a tall building - and received the maximum sentence by Howard Circuit Judge Diane O. Leasure - 30 years for murder and 30 for child abuse.
Leasure told Owens he killed Kevonte Davis "before he had the opportunity to live life to his fullest, and that is something you need to live with ... for the rest of your life."
Owens, who has maintained that he is innocent, told the judge before he was sentenced that he offered his "heartfelt condolences" to Kevonte's mother, Kenesha Davis, and her family.
"I'm sorry for all the pain and grief," said Owens, who will be eligible for parole after serving 15 years of the murder sentence. "There's not a second of a day that I'm not devastated" by Kevonte's death.
Lawanda Pope, Kenesha Davis' aunt, said she was pleased with the sentence but said, "It's very disturbing that he's still pleading his innocence."
The conviction was initially in jeopardy a day after the June 10 verdict when it was discovered that one of the jurors was not a U.S. citizen.
Juror Adeyemi Alade, a resident alien from Nigeria, had said he missed references to citizenship on a juror questionnaire, learning of the requirement only when a colleague said something to him the night of the verdict.
The defense had asked for a new trial, claming the jury did not reach a lawful verdict because one of the members was not a U.S. citizen.
But Leasure ruled in July that the presence of a resident alien on the jury was not grounds for setting aside the verdict and ordering a new trial.
Owens was the only adult with Kevonte Davis at the family's home in the 5200 block of Brook Way on July 30, 2003, when, medical experts said, the injuries occurred.
During the trial, prosecutors argued that Kevonte Davis' lacerated liver, bleeding lungs and five broken ribs were caused by Owens, the only person big and strong enough to cause the injuries.
Yesterday, prosecutor Mary Murphy said Owens had come home after a job interview and was upset that he did not get a job offer, and then punched and kicked the boy.
"He came home and he was angry, and he took that anger out on [Kevonte], killing him," she said.
The defense had argued that something else, maybe a rowdy older brother, caused the injuries.
Owens had testified that he never hit or kicked Kevonte Davis and didn't know what caused the injuries. He said he realized something was wrong with his stepson when he tried to wake the boy late in the afternoon.
Owens' mother and stepfather pleaded with Leasure to have mercy on Owens, saying the charges he faced were completely out of character.
Owens' mother, Doris Jenkins, told Leasure through sobs that she didn't want Owens to be "taken away" from his two sons.