Child's death gets Ga. man life sentence

Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010 5:54 AM
Last updated 6:12 AM
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SPRINGFIELD, Ga. - A Guyton man convicted last month in the 2009 beating death of a 2-year-old child has been sentenced to life without parole plus 20 years.

An Effingham County Superior Court  jury found Lester Casey Griffin, 24, guilty of felony murder and involuntary manslaughter charges Nov. 4 in the death of his live-in girlfriend's son, Dylan Helmey.

Chief Judge William E. Woodrum Jr. followed the state's recommendation Wednesday in handing down the sentence.

Holding up an autopsy photo of the toddler's bruised body, Assistant District Attorney Ben Edwards told the judge life without parole was the right sentence in this "heinous" case.

"This grown man senselessly took the life of this little boy. For whatever reason - at trial it was said for messing with his CDs - the defendant punched him with sufficient force that he almost pushed his heart to his back to where it exploded," Edwards said.

Griffin also was found guilty of cruelty to children for failing to seek medical attention for broken ribs and a black eye the child had received in the last weeks of his life.

Edwards said those injuries deserved a 20-year consecutive sentence.

Several of Griffin's sisters testified Wednesday to his compassion, asking the judge to allow their brother a chance at freedom and give a sentence including parole.

"I have six children and have left them with Casey," his sister Pamela Mikell said. "I've never known Casey to be agressive."

Mikell read a letter Griffin had written to her from jail, saying he had been studying his Bible and was thankful for her prayers.

"Wouldn't it be fair to say the multiple injuries he inflicted on Dylan are a better indicator of what kind of man he is?" Edwards asked.

"I couldn't say," Mikell answered.

Joan Washburn, who served as Dylan Helmey's foster mother beginning at 3 months of age and until he was returned to his mother, Ciara Helmey, asked Judge Woordrum to keep Griffin behind bars.

"Dylan doesn't have the choice of life with parole," Washburn said. "He doesn't have a life."

Washburn said Dylan came into her custody in a body cast as an infant.

At the time of Griffin's June 30, 2009, arrest for the boy's death, he was awaiting trial on cruelty to children charges stemming from an incident in October 2006. The child involved was Dylan Helmey.

Griffin's defense attorney, Public Defender Robert Persse, told the court Griffin was remorseful and showed no evidence of being a danger to society.

"This was a crime of passion and, ultimately, frustration," Persse said.

During Griffin's trial, Persse said the case wasn't murder, but a "dumb parent making a dumb decision."

Griffin admitted to investigators in a taped interview he had hit the child.

Judge Woodrum said because of the medical examiner's testimony during Griffin's trial of the child's injuries, taken together with what he suffered as an infant in the short time after he was returned to the couple, earned Griffin life in prison.

"(Dylan) never had a day on the face of this earth that a child should have," Woodrum said. "Mr. Griffin, you'll spend the rest of your time in the prison system."

Persse indicated this case was not yet over.

"We look forward to our appeal to the supreme court."

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CABoatright 12/16/10 - 07:21 am
LOL Scooby! He deserves

LOL Scooby! He deserves every bad thing that can come his way.

tuffenuf4u 12/16/10 - 07:21 am
During Griffin's trial,

During Griffin's trial, Persse said the case wasn't murder, but a "dumb parent making a dumb decision."-This has got to be the stupidest, dumbest defense attorney that has ever practiced law. He should be sentenced along with Mr. Griffin. I hope this defense attorney can sleep at night. Any adult who will inflict harm on a child for any reason does not deserve to live the rest of his life at taxpayer expense where his every need will be catered to. He should be locked up with the most violent of criminals and left to fend for him soelf, and if he leaves prison in a body bag, oh well.

shadypines 12/16/10 - 07:49 am
I just wonder how "defense"

I just wonder how "defense" attorneys like Mr. Persse sleep at night. It must be nice to be able to justify every horrendous act that people commit. Personally, I would rather be unemployed for the rest of my life than to deny that a man who killed a two year old baby wasn't a murderer, but a "dumb parent making a dumb decision".

southernguy08 12/16/10 - 07:52 am
This child was brought to a

This child was brought to a foster mother in a body cast and STILL returned to his birth mother? And now, the child is dead? Sounds like the system needs to be put on trial as well. RIP Dylan, you've earned it. Griffin AND this child's mother should be serving hard time.

seabeau 12/16/10 - 08:13 am
Death,Death,Death is what

Death,Death,Death is what they both deserve!!!!

workedforit 12/16/10 - 09:20 am
Hooray for Judge Woodrum, he

Hooray for Judge Woodrum, he gets tough on cases that deserve tough punishment, we need more like him.
Hopefully this scum gets his in prison and goes out in a body bag so that we don't have to provide him 3 hots and a cot.
DFACS should be held accountable as well, someone failed miserably.

Suzy Q
Suzy Q 12/16/10 - 10:00 am
That monster deserves the

That monster deserves the death penalty. Too bad he didn't qualify under our messed up legal system.

Where are the charges against the mother? Since this apparently wasn't a one time thing, I don't understand how she gets a pass for allowing her child to be repeatedly abused.

aughate 12/16/10 - 10:35 am
good sentencing. dumb defense

good sentencing. dumb defense attorney.

brandy1951 12/16/10 - 11:53 am
The witch needs to be in

The witch needs to be in there too. My grandma always said woe be under the lawyers and doctors because they are gonna answer to the higher power big time and its all about the almighty dollar.

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