‘I hurt my baby,’ capital murder jurors hear Mobile man tell police officer

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – An obviously distraught Markeise Kardell Caldwell can be heard fighting back tears as she speaks with a police officer following the death of her then-boyfriend in May 2018.

“He hurt the baby,” he said off camera in police body camera footage played for jurors in Caldwell’s capital murder trial.

Prosecutors opened their statements to portray the defendant as violent, who severely beat 4-month-old Kendrick Cole and then tried to cover her up. Mobile County Assistant District Attorney Louis Walker told jurors that the defendant beat the boy on May 3, 2018, while working at the Azalea Point Apartments with the child’s mother.

Caldwell, 29, did not seek medication, Walker said. He added that it was not until three days later that the boy was admitted to Providence Hospital. He said the boy was pronounced dead in the helicopter that was taking him to the University Hospital of South Alabama.

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“Caldwell beat him, repeatedly punched the 4-month-old and pushed him against the foot of the bed several times,” Walker said.

Defense attorney Bucky Thomas said in his opening statement that his client was not “this cowardly killer that the state would have you believe,” but a man suffering from schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by a 2014 robbery and shooting. He said prosecutors could not meet the burden of proving that Caldwell intended to kill the baby.

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He awoke and decided, saying: “I will kill that boy.”

Thomas told jurors that they will carefully consider this client’s demeanor when they observe police questioning.

“It’s bread when it comes to detectives,” he said.

At one point, Thomas Caldwell told investigators: “I was persecuted by demons.”

A week later, prosecutors and defense attorneys on Monday finally agreed to let a jury hear the first death penalty case in Mobile County since the COVID-19 pandemic. The jury includes four alternates of nine men and seven women.

Walker told jurors they will hear testimony that Kendrick’s older brother, Kendall, was also abused.

Walker said jurors saw a text message from Caldwell as the mother of the boys telling her that Kendrick had fallen off the bed and hit his head. Defendant gave police a similar version of events on May 3, 2018, telling them that Kendall had kicked his brother out of bed.

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Later, Walker said, Caldwell changed his story and confessed. An autopsy revealed the baby suffered a fractured skull, the prosecutor said.

“He had been beaten many times as an adult,” he said. “The defendant repeatedly crashed against the bed.”

Testimony resumes on Tuesday.

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