Soilberry was quickly convicted in Dougherty Superior Court
18-year old Vincent Soilberry took the stand in his murder trial and testified that his ex-girlfriend's young son was killed by four men during a botched dope deal in May of 2008.
He testified that he took 3-year old Shondarius Roney with him in May when he went to sell fake crack cocaine.
Soilberry told the jury that a man called "Black" attacked him because Soilberry was selling dope on his turf, then three other men jumped him.
He said Black was the person who beat Roney.
The little boy died from a ruptured liver, fractured ribs, and other internal injuries.
After the verdict on January 8, 2009, Vincent Soilberry smiled at our camera as he left the courthouse.
The Albany jury took only 20 minutes to find Soilberry guilty of beating three year old Shondarius Roney to death.
The child's family said they hope the verdict helps the mother. "The Roney family heart goes out to her. We will give her all the support that she wants. We want everyone to get some closure in this situation," said family spokesman Dewain Roney.
Opinion Summary from the Georgia Supreme Court
SOILBERRY V. THE STATE (S11A0847)
The Georgia Supreme Court has unanimously upheld the murder conviction and life prison sentence given to a man for beating to death his girlfriend's 3-year-old son after the child soiled himself.
In 2009, Vincent Soilberry was convicted by a Dougherty County jury of malice murder, felony murder, two counts of cruelty to children in the first degree, aggravated assault and two counts of aggravated battery. He was sentenced to life plus 40 years in prison.
According to the evidence, Soilberry – who was about 18 years old at the time – was babysitting his girlfriend's son, Shondorius Roney, when he called 911 in the early hours of May 2, 2008. Paramedics found the little boy in an empty bathtub, coveredwith feces and having trouble breathing. He died soon after. Initially, Soilberry told police and a nurse at the hospital that he'd left the child in the bathtub for a few moments while he mopped the floor in the other room.
Later, after he was given his Miranda warnings, Soilberry confessed that when the little boy soiled his pants, he flew into a rage, punched the child in his right side and kneed him in the chest. According to the medical examiner, the child had numerous injuries, including rib fractures, head injuries, a heart contusion and bruises and abrasions. He suffered a severe beating that included hitting, stomping and thrashing with an object consistent with the curtain rod found in the child's bedroom.
The most serious of his injuries was the blunt force injury to his abdomen that lacerated the child's liver and caused rapid blood loss. On appeal, Soilberry argued the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict and his statements to police should have been suppressed as he did not make them voluntarily. At trial, Soilberry testified that all his previous accounts of what had happened were lies and that in fact, Shondorius was killed by vengeful junkies following a bad drug deal.
In today's opinion, written by Justice Harold Melton, the state Supreme Court rejects his arguments. The evidence "was amply sufficient to enable the jurors to find Soilberry guilty of the crimes for which he was convicted beyond a reasonable doubt," the opinion says. Furthermore, "Soilberry's contention that his confession that he hit the child was involuntary is also wholly meritless."
However, the trial court erred by failing to merge Soilberry's conviction for aggravated battery into his conviction for murder, the opinion states. As a result, the high court has thrown out his 20-year sentence for that crime and is sending the case back to the trial court to correct his sentence.
Attorney for Appellant (Soilberry): Kevin Armstrong
Attorneys for Appellee (State): Gregory Edwards, District Attorney, Heather Lanier, Asst. D.A., Samuel Olens, Attorney General, Mary Beth Westmoreland, Dep. A.G., Paula Smith, Sr. Asst. A.G., Elizabeth Harris, Asst. A.G.
Westmoreland, Dep. A.G., Paula Smith, Sr. Asst. A.G., Elizabeth Harris, Asst. A.G.
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