Woman given life sentence for beating son to death

Published 10:32 pm Saturday, November 18, 2006

A jury found a woman guilty Thursday of beating her 5-year-old son to death because he could not count to 20.

Towander Broadhead, 30, will serve a life sentence for capital murder after the jury deadlocked 11-1 on the death penalty.

Broadhead’s daughter, 13-year-old Royteshia Perkins, testified Wednesday that the Escatawpa woman beat Kenderick Broadhead all over the house on the day of his death, using a belt, a book, a broomstick and a plastic rod used to open blinds.

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When she took the stand later in the day, Broadhead said her weak spirituality allowed her to submit to the will of Satan.

“I don’t think I was possessed, but I think the Devil set me up big time for this,” she said.

Broadhead, 27 at the time of the killing, said she only meant to correct the boy, who kept missing 16 as he tried to count to 20. The Vicksburg jury didn’t believe her testimony.

The trial was moved from Jackson County where a judge ruled Broadhead would not be able to receive a fair trial because of media coverage.

Her defense attorney, George Shaddock, said Broadhead believed education was the only way for the child to escape the life of poverty and child abuse she suffered growing up. In closing arguments, he told jurors she did not realize the boy was seriously injured when he died in February 2004.

Attorneys made their closing arguments Thursday morning and the jury returned the verdict around 11 a.m. Jurors were not given the option of convicting Broadhead of manslaughter, which carries a lighter penalty.

Broadhead testified that her mother hit her in the face with a pipe when she was 5 and that the woman fired a gun at her as an adolescent.

District Attorney Tony Lawrence countered her remarks on cross-examination.

“All that stuff is not an excuse for what you did to 5-five-year old Kenderick Broadhead,” he said.

Forensic pathologist Paul McGary testified the boy’s wounds were consistent with an attack similar to the one described by Perkins.

Broadhead’s husband, the late Willie Earl Thomas, was charged with accessory after the fact to capital murder for his role in the disposing of the body about 40 miles from the couple’s home.

Broadhead said dumping the body in rural Harrison County was Thomas’ idea, as well as dialing 911 and reporting her son missing.