A jury began deliberating Tuesday in the trial of a former police officer accused of killing his pregnant lover, wrapping her body in a comforter and then dumping it in a park.
The panel recessed for the night without reaching a verdict.
Bobby Cutts Jr. testified through sobs that he went to Jessie Davis’ house last June to pick up their 2½-year-old son, Blake, and accidentally killed her with an elbow to her neck as he was trying to leave.
Thousands searched for Davis in the area surrounding her northeast Ohio home before he led police to the body.
Cutts, 30, has pleaded not guilty to charges including aggravated murder in the deaths of the 26-year-old Davis and her near-term fetus. If he is convicted he could be sentenced to death.
In closing arguments, prosecutor Dennis Barr said the former Canton police officer’s story made no sense. Barr said Cutts wanted Davis and her fetus dead because of mounting debt and child support for a fourth child.
“You don’t hide the body unless you’re trying to cover up a criminal act, a purposeful killing, especially when you’re a trained police officer sworn to serve and protect,” Barr said.
Defense attorney Fernando Mack conceded that Cutts must take responsibility for dumping her body and leaving their son home alone for more than 24 hours. But he said those actions don’t prove Cutts committed aggravated murder.
“They don’t even come close,” he said, pointing out that no witnesses testified that Cutts had been complaining about child support payments or about Davis’ pregnancy.
Mack also reminded jurors that the medical examiner could not determine the cause of Davis’ death and that a key witness, Cutts’ friend Myisha Ferrell, didn’t testify that Cutts strangled Davis.
Mack also told jurors that Cutts tried to perform CPR and revive Davis with bleach.
“The panic is increasing now,” Mack said. “He knows that this is not supposed to be, not because he went in there with the intent to commit murder but because something escalated and got out of control.”
Barr responded in his rebuttal by reminding the jury of what Blake told an investigator: “Mommy’s crying. Mommy broke the table. Mommy’s in the rug,” and later “Daddy’s mad.”
“How can a 2½-year-old make that up?” Barr asked. “That’s evidence that Bobby committed aggravated murder.”
Defense attorneys asked the judge to instruct the jury on lesser charges of involuntary manslaughter or voluntary manslaughter, but the judge rejected their request, saying it wasn’t warranted by the evidence.
Jurors may consider a murder charge, which would spare Cutts from a possible death sentence.