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After a two day trial, Amanda Jacobs Coleman was found guilty of the murder of two-year-old Brooklyn Aldridge by a Coffee County jury. The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney John Rumker with Judge Andy Spivey presiding over the proceedings.
The evidence presented at trial showed that law enforcement and emergency responders were dispatched to the residence of Ron Lott and his girlfriend, Amanda Coleman, on the evening of March 6, 2018. Brooklyn, the two-year-old daughter of Ron Lott and Rachel Aldridge, was found dead by Coleman. Coleman claimed that no one except her had any contact with Brooklyn during that day and that she had placed Brooklyn down for a nap after she indicated that she was not feeling well. No external signs of injury were seen. At the time of the murder, a total of five children resided with Coleman and Lott. Brooklyn was the only child not biologically related to Coleman. Coleman admitted to witnesses that she was stressed and overwhelmed and had recently relapsed into methamphetamine use.
The autopsy performed at the GBI Regional Medical Examiner's Office found severe hemorrhaging at the back of Brooklyn's head underneath her skin as well as hemorrhaging around her brain. Dr. Sims-Stanley, who performed the autopsy, concluded that these injuries were caused by severe blunt force trauma, consistent with Brooklyn's head hitting a solid, flat surface (like a wall or floor). She further testified that a simple fall from a bed, trampoline, or being hit by another child would not be enough force to cause the injuries. Instead, the amount of force required would be akin to falling from a second story window, being in a car wreck, or an adult intentionally causing these injuries. Lastly, she testified that Brooklyn would have immediately begun losing consciousness after receiving the injury and her demeanor would have been noticeably different.
The defendant called her own expert, Dr. Adel Shaker, who began his bizarre testimony by explaining to the jury that medicine was actually in the field of art and not science (including an explanation of how 3 + 3 may equal nine). He disagreed with Dr. Sims-Stanley's conclusion regarding the amount of force required and opined that the injuries were consistent with an accidental fall from a step ladder or slipping on a tile floor. He also testified that Brooklyn could have experienced a lucid interval after receiving the injury, not exhibiting any symptoms of the injury for up to three days. Dr. Shaker was cross-examined by prosecutors who inquired into Dr. Shaker's history including a falsified autopsy report that he authored regarding a British tourist, Julie Ward, killed in Kenya in 1988 as well as a Texas murder case in which the court later found that Dr. Shaker had changed his conclusions and testimony immediately before trial, resulting in a reversal of the conviction. On the stand, Dr. Shaker denied any wrong doing.
After hearing evidence for two days and deliberating for a mere hour, the jury apparently rejected the contentions of Dr. Shaker, found Dr. Sims-Stanley's conclusions more credible, and convicted Coleman of malice murder. Judge Spivey then sentenced Coleman to life without the possibility of parole.
District Attorney George Barnhill thanks the work of Detective Jamie Hersey, Dr. Melissa Sim-Stanley, the Coffee County Sheriff's Office, the GBI, and all other witnesses involved in bringing this case to justice.
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