A jury Thursday found Stephen Odom guilty of intentionally and knowingly causing bodily injury to a child, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. The 32-year old is accused of the Jan. 2012 death of 3-year old Ja'Kyra Henderson.
Odom was the boyfriend of the child's mother, Keneste Lennette. Odom was unemployed at the time of her death and took care of Ja'Kyra during the day.
Beaumont police responded to Calder Woods retirement center on January 15, 2012 where Ja'Kyra was found dead. Lennette worked at Calder Woods and was planning to take her daughter to the emergency room after work.
According to Lennette, the little girl had been sick since November 2011, but had been diagnosed with a stomach virus two weeks prior to her death.
However, an autopsy of the toddler revealed her cause of death was homicide from complications of blunt force trauma to the abdomen.
Ja'Kyra's seven-year-old brother, Jacob Whitehead, played a key witness in the trial. Jacob said his sister would sometimes have accidents since she was potty training and on two different occasions while his mom was at work, he saw Odom punch Ja'Kyra in the stomach. Jacob said he never told anyone because Odom got angry with him when he found out Jacob told his grandmother about getting a whipping for not knowing how to tie his shoes.
During closing arguments, defense attorneys accused Ja'Kyra's grandmother of creating a "lie" that Odom abused Ja'Kyra and convinced Jacob to say he saw Odom punch his sister. They said it was known that she did not like odom to begin with.
The prosecution argued that if the defense believed the grandmother was behind it, they could have called her to stand, but they never did.
Sentencing will begin Friday at 10 a.m. in Judge Steven's court.