Resentencing ordered in child-abuse death
TULSA — A child-abuse murder convict has been granted a resentencing because of a Tulsa County prosecutor’s “theatrical” use of a baby doll prop during closing arguments at trial.
Gregory Antwon O’Neal’s no-parole life sentence will be reconsidered after an appeals court found the prosecutor used the doll to demonstrate abuse that may not have contributed to the child’s death.
“We cannot condone theatrical demonstrations of speculative theories, which are calculated to encourage an emotional reaction from the jurors,” the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals wrote in an opinion filed Tuesday.
District Judge James Caputo sentenced O’Neal, now 30, on Sept. 23, 2013, after a jury found him guilty of first-degree child-abuse murder in the death of his 2-month-old daughter, Tianna Marie O’Neal.
Assistant district attorneys Sarah McAmis and Ben Fu maintained that O’Neal and the girl’s mother, Tamara Matthews, were responsible for the child’s injuries, which included a skull fracture, subdural hemorrhages and shaking injuries.
Matthews, now 29, pleaded guilty May 5, 2014, to permitting child-abuse murder and is serving a 10-year prison sentence, records show.
O’Neal’s resentencing hearing hasn’t been set, according to court records.