A jury found a man guilty in the 2015 death of his 7-month-old daughter after she suffered a skull fracture.
Christopher M. Potts, 22, was convicted of a felony charge of battery causing death to a child under age 14 after a more than three-day jury trial.
Prosecutors said Potts threw the baby girl into her crib in frustration in a Franklin apartment in September 2015, causing a skull fracture and a ruptured artery that killed her. Potts had initially told police he didn’t know what happened to the baby, and then mentioned other scenarios where she could have been injured on accident, but a pathologist told police those scenarios wouldn’t have caused the extent of damage the baby suffered.
Potts eventually told police he threw his daughter in anger.
A jury trial began this week in the case Johnson County Superior Court 3, and Potts’ attorney, Matthew Solomon, argued that police immediately focused in on Potts and did not prove he had harmed the baby, especially when the child’s mother and grandfather also were home at the time.
After more than two hours of deliberation, a jury disagreed and found Potts guilty. Potts will be sentenced next month by Judge Lance Hamner, and faces up to 30 years in prison on the felony charge.
Prosecutors had focused on Potts’ interview with police shortly after the baby died, when he gave different scenarios about how she could have been injured, ranging from an incident where she fell while playing with her grandfather days earlier to him dropping her while performing CPR.
After further questioning, and police telling Potts those scenarios did not match the baby’s injuries, he told police: “I didn’t just drop her.” And that he had thrown her “too hard.”
Her injuries were so serious, she would have immediately lost normal body functions and could not have survived, Johnson County Deputy Prosecutor Ryan Bland said.
“From the moment that fracture was sustained, Felicity Anderson was going to die,” Bland said.
Solomon had argued that police didn’t look into the possibility that the baby’s death was an accident, and instead looked to put blame on Potts.
“I don’t think we’ll ever quite know what happened in that small apartment,” Solomon said.
He called Potts’ confession to police false, and said Potts was under a large amount of stress after just losing his child and was under pressure after more than an hour of questioning by police. He also said Potts had a lower level of intelligence and had no prior criminal history, meaning he had little to no previous interactions with police.
“This is the recipe for a false confession,” Solomon said.
Prosecutors argued that police had followed the facts of the case, which showed this was a criminal case and that Potts had admitted he threw the baby in anger, matching the injuries an autopsy showed, Johnson County Deputy Prosecutor Carrie Miles said.
“The police prayed this would not be a criminal investigation. They asked about other options. The facts led them to this being a criminal investigation,” Miles said.