updated 10/5/2009 6:56:21 PM ET 2009-10-05T22:56:21

A jury deliberated for about two hours Monday before finding a Georgia man guilty of murder and child molestation in the death of a 6-year-old boy whose body was later discovered wrapped in trash bags and dumped near a road.

The jury in coastal Brunswick convicted David Edenfield, 61, in the March 2007 sexual assault and choking death of young Christopher Michael Barrios.

The jury now must decide whether to sentence Edenfield to death or life in prison.

Edenfield is the first of three suspects to stand trial for the boy's slaying. His wife and grown son have also been charged with molesting and killing the boy, then hiding his body.

Because of pretrial publicity, the jury was selected from residents who live some 90 miles away, and the jurors were sequestered in Brunswick, 60 miles south of Savannah.

District Attorney Stephen Kelley, in his closing argument to the jury, described the slain kindergartner as a "precious blessing, thrown away in a trash bag."

"Why would anyone want to rape a child? Why would anyone murder a child?" Kelley said, sounding both close to tears and rage. "It tears the very fabric of my soul to shreds just thinking about those questions."

Taped confession
Kelley replayed for the jury portions of Edenfield's videotaped confession in which he described watching, along with his wife, as their grown son stripped the boy and molested him in their mobile home.

On the tape, Edenfield said he rubbed his partially undressed body against Barrios, who begged them to stop, then placed his own hands on top of his son's as his son choked the boy to death.

"It's my fault. I should've been a grown man and stopped it right then, but I didn't," the elder Edenfield tells a police detective on the tape, recorded a day after the boy's body was found. "I should be punished for the crime."

Kelley told jurors Edenfield's own words proved his guilt.

"What it boils right down to is David Edenfield has convicted himself," the prosecutor said.

Defense Attorney James Yancey Jr. urged jurors not to assume Edenfield's confession was genuine. Edenfield, Yancey said, likely told police what they wanted to hear after investigators repeatedly assured him he'd done nothing wrong and wouldn't go to jail as long as he told the truth.

"David Edenfield is a man who respects authority. The police are the authority," Yancey said. "Whatever they said, he agreed. They led him."

He described the defendant, who sat passively in the courtroom, as a man who worked long hours at a fast-food restaurant to support a wife and son who left him feeling defeated.

Son a convited child molester
He said Edenfield knew his wife, Peggy Edenfield, was unfaithful to him and their 34-year-old son, George Edenfield, was both mentally disabled and a convicted child molester whose behavior was beyond his father's control.

"He was a beaten man," Yancey said. "He had been made promises — that if you do or say basically what we want you to say, you'll go home and George will get help."

The boy lived in a Brunswick mobile home park where his father and grandmother had homes. He would pass the Edenfields' trailer when walking between them.

The Edenfields moved into the mobile home park where the boy lived about four months before his death. The family had been forced to move because George Edenfield was a convicted child molester. The family's previous home was close to a playground, a violation of Georgia's sex offender registry law.

In an earlier police interview from March 2007, also shown to the jury, Edenfield acknowledged he had been charged with incest in 1994, when he was accused of having sex with an adult relative who was not his son.

Edenfield pleaded guilty to the charge, but in the police interview he denied wrongdoing. He said the relative was angry with him and made up the accusation.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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