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A Shelby County jury deliberated for just over an hour Tuesday, and found Shakeitha Cartwright, guilty, for beating her five-month old daughter, Keilly Hoyt to death a year ago. Cartwright received an automatic life sentence without parole.


The defense began Day 5 of the Capital Murder trial by resting its case, calling no witnesses. After closing arguments, the jury went into deliberations just after 11 o'clock, and produced the verdict before 12:30.


District Attorney Kenneth Florence in a post-verdict press release, said that a 2007 state law kept Cartwright from receiving the death penalty. Quoting Florence, "the death penalty was not an available option in this Capital Murder case. Because Ms. Cartwright murdered only her own child, and she has no prior criminal record, the State cannot prove that she will be a future danger to others, which is required to impose a sentence of death. The reasoning behind the case law is that Cartwright will not have access to potential children victims while serving a sentence of life in prison, without the possibility of parole". Defense attorney Rudy Valesquez said he planned to appeal the verdict.


District Attorney Florence feels as a society, we need to take a more pro-active approach to stopping child abuse.  He said, "Preventing crime is better than reacting after the fact to crimes already committed. Regular Public Service announcements about the Emergency Infant Care Provider drop off option should be more publicized, and I hope we, as a civilized society, take that step in order to prevent such a horrific, shocking, and unimaginable crime in the future.”

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