Dad Guilty of Putting Baby in Microwave
2008-03-25 12:52:55
By JUAN A. LOZANO Associated Press Writer

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — A young father was found guilty Tuesday of badly injuring his infant daughter by putting her in a microwave, with jurors rejecting his claim that he was insane at the time.

The jury found 20-year-old Joshua Mauldin guilty of felony injury to a child after deliberating for about four hours.

Jurors will now begin the punishment phase of Mauldin's trial before deciding on a sentence. He faces anywhere from probation to life in prison.

Mauldin pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, saying he was having a psychotic episode when he put his then 2-month-old daughter, Ana, in a hotel microwave for 10 to 20 seconds last May while her mother and grandmother were away.

Prosecutors and Mauldin's defense attorney, Sam Cammack III, had no immediate comment after the verdict.

Cammack told jurors during closing arguments Monday that mental illness was probably the only explanation for his client's actions.

"Joshua Mauldin has been somebody with mental illness from the time he was 10 years old until the time this offense was committed," he said.

But prosecutors countered that Mauldin was driven by anger that he was in a loveless marriage and was stuck in a new town with a baby he didn't want to care for.

"All (Mauldin) has done is try to wrap himself in some psychiatric flag and say, 'I did it and I was crazy,'" Galveston County prosecutor Xochitl Vandiver told jurors. "That's what he's trying to pull on you all. Don't fall for it because it is a lie."

Ana, now living with relatives, had to undergo skin grafts because of her burns, and part of one ear was amputated. Before putting her in the microwave, Mauldin had punched the baby and put her in the hotel-room safe and refrigerator.

At the time, Mauldin had just moved to Galveston, about 50 miles southeast of Houston, from Warren, Ark., to become a preacher.

"He knowingly hurt that baby because he was angry with her," Vandiver said.

But Cammack said Mauldin was a loving father who tried to run into traffic and kill himself after realizing what had happened.

But Vandiver said that Mauldin has a history of lying, including about being mentally ill, to get out of trouble. He initially claimed his daughter was severely sunburned.

Officials say Ana, now 1, is still receiving treatment but is doing well. She had suffered second- and third-degree burns to her left ear, cheek, hand and shoulder.

The state defines not guilty by reason of insanity as having a severe mental illness that prevents someone who is committing a crime from knowing that it is wrong.

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