State News

June 18, 2013

Court rejects appeal of conviction in boy’s death

ATLANTA — The Supreme Court of Georgia on Monday upheld a man’s convictions and death sentence in the 2007 rape and slaying of a 6-year-old boy in a mobile home park near the state’s coast.

In a 5-to-2 decision, the high court rejected arguments by David Edenfield’s lawyers that the evidence in the case was insufficient to find him guilty in the slaying of Christopher Barrios. Writing for the majority, Justice Keith Blackwell also rejected Edenfield’s attorneys’ arguments that the trial court made errors throughout the trial.

In a dissent, presiding Justice Hugh Thompson agreed with the decision to uphold Edenfield’s convictions but said the death sentence should be reversed.

Defense lawyer James Yancey said Monday he was disappointed by the ruling.

“We will continue to pursue all the avenues available to Mr. Edenfield,” he said.

Christopher went missing March 8, 2007, from the Brunswick mobile home park where his father and grandmother both had homes. His body was found a week later by a roadside, wrapped in trash bags.

David Edenfield confessed to the crime in a videotaped interview with a police detective the day after the boy’s body was found.

On the tape, Edenfield said he and his son molested the boy inside their home while his wife, Peggy, watched. He said Christopher pleaded with them to stop and threatened to tell his father and grandmother, prompting Edenfield’s son to begin choking the boy.

Edenfield told police he placed his own hands on top of his son’s as Christopher choked to death.

Among the arguments he presented to the Supreme Court, Edenfield’s lawyer said the trial court was wrong to refuse to strike a prospective juror who said he could not consider a life sentence with the possibility of parole for someone convicted of child abuse. Upon questioning by the judge, the prospective juror said he could consider that sentence if the circumstances warranted it. The defense filed a motion to strike that juror, and the man did not end up on the jury.

Thompson wrote in the dissent that the death sentence should be reversed since the trial judge agreed to seat that prospective juror.

Edenfield’s wife, Peggy Edenfield, was also charged in the case but agreed to testify against her husband and son in exchange for prosecutors agreeing not to seek the death penalty against her. She is serving a 60-year prison sentence.

Their son has been deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial.

 

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