GALVESTON, Texas – A young father was convicted 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.
Jurors deliberated about four hours before finding Joshua Mauldin, 20, guilty of felony injury to a child.
After the verdict, jurors heard testimony in the punishment phase of the trial and deliberated for 2 1/2 hours without a decision. They were expected to resume Wednesday. Mauldin faces anything from probation to life in prison.
Prosecutors asked jurors to sentence him to life in prison because his daughter will endure a lifetime of physical and emotional scars. Defense attorneys asked them to give him probation so he could continue psychiatric treatment.
Mauldin had 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 said Mauldin was angry that he was in a loveless marriage and took it out on his daughter. Just before putting her in the microwave, Mauldin had punched the baby and put her in the hotel-room safe and refrigerator.
"This child has been scarred for life, for life, and not only physically," prosecutor Xochitl Vandiver said, holding up a photograph of Ana that showed a large red scar across the girl's face.
Prosecutors also said Mauldin had a history of violence and lying about being mentally ill to get out of trouble.
Defense attorney Sam Cammack III asked jurors to remember that Mauldin has been mentally ill since age 10. He said Mauldin was a loving father who tried to run into traffic and kill himself after realizing what had happened.
Mauldin sat emotionless as his daughter's foster mother detailed in penalty phase testimony how Ana's wounds still need to be cleaned every day and how the now-1-year-old girl screams during the painful process.
The witness, Heather Croxton, said she hopes to adopt Ana. A trial set for next month will seek to terminate the parental rights of Joshua and Eva Mauldin, who lives in Arkansas. Croxton's husband is a step-cousin of Eva Mauldin.
Croxton said Ana will need more operations to remove scar tissue and reconstruct her left ear, but she said she is more worried about the day Ana finds out what happened to her.
"I can only imagine how (she) would feel, knowing that the man that was supposed to take care of her did this to her," she said as she cried. "As far as telling her the truth ... I don't see how we cannot tell her.
"She's going to want to know how she got those scars," she said.
Mauldin's mother, Joanie, pleaded for mercy. "He did not do it intentionally. There is no way someone in their right mind would do something like that," she told jurors, crying.
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.