A jury found an Augusta man guilty of murder Thursday in the beating death of his 4-year-old daughter.
The prosecutor argued in favor of a life sentence without parole for Willie C. Jones, 23.
Judge Daniel J. Craig, who presided over the Richmond County Superior Court trial and heard all the evidence, agreed that was the proper punishment.
“You’re sitting in the presence of evil,” Assistant District Attorney John Markwalter argued to the jury in closing Thursday. Over a two-week period, Jones beat and burned the little girl until her brain was so injured she could live only connected to machines.
Tyasia Phillips died March 11, 2012, after she was disconnected from life support.
Jones told investigators Tyasia hit her head when she jumped in an attempt to get away from him.
“This child was fighting for her life,” Markwalter said.
Defense attorney Katrell Nash asked the jury to consider the possibility that Tyasia could have suffered the fatal head wound while playing rough with other children. Jones was only guilty of not watching over the child to ensure she didn’t get hurt, Nash said.
Jones, who initially denied harming Tyasia but later confessed, was upset and exhausted several hours after his daughter was taken to the hospital, Nash said.
Tyasia was covered in bruises and abrasions and there was a burn pattern on her back that indicated she had been held down on a space heater while naked, and that she was burned on two occasions, Markwalter said.
Jones used multiple weapons to beat the child because, he said, Tyasia had been disrespectful, Markwalter said. He beat the child to death and then tried to downplay it by claiming he just reprimanded her, Markwalter argued.