After deliberating for six hours over the course of two days, an Ohio jury recommended life in prison without parole Friday for a mother convicted of killing her month-old baby in a microwave. The jury, which had found her guilty of aggravated murder a week earlier, spared 31-year-old China Arnold from the death penalty in her third trial for daughter Paris Talley’s 2005 death.
The sentencing phase of Arnold’s trial had been delayed for a few days earlier in the week so she could undergo a mental exam, but two psychologists testified Thursday that she showed no signs of mental illness. In an effort to avoid a death sentence, the defense told the jury that Arnold was very drunk at the time of the killing and that she had no prior criminal history. Prosecutors argued that there were no mitigating factors that outweighed her crime.
Arnold was accused of putting her baby in a microwave and turning it on after a fight with her boyfriend in August 2005. Medical experts testified at the trial that the girl was likely in the microwave for more than two minutes.
“She was cooked,” one former medical examiner testified, according to WLWT.
Arnold’s supporters gathered for a rally on Wednesday, claiming that her conviction was an unjust result of racism. Even after the sentencing, defense attorney Jon Paul Rion told the Springfield News Sun that, “There are witnesses out there that know China is innocent.”
This was not the first jury to convict Arnold of murder, though. Her first trial ended in a mistrial in 2008 when a boy came forward and claimed he saw another child put Talley in the microwave, but she was found guilty at her second trial later that year. That conviction was eventually overturned, partly due to issues with a former cellmate who changed her testimony between trials.