CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - It took a jury less than six hours to reach a verdict in the trial of Christopher Whitaker, the man accused of killing 14-year-old Alianna DeFreeze in Jan. 2017.
Whitaker, 44, was found guilty on all 10 charges related to kidnapping, raping and killing Alianna. Now, a jury will decide if Whitaker will be sentenced to death. The death penalty phase of the trial starts Wednesday at 9 a.m.
Feb. 22, 2018
7:45 p.m. : Jury will continue deliberation on Friday.
9:30 Aiken says Whitaker will have a difficult time in prison. Inmates hate "violent sex offenders and child murderers."
9:05 James E. Aiken is on the witness stand. He is an expert in death penalty trials and has worked as a Prison Warden.
9:01 Court is in session.
Feb. 21, 2018
4:10 Court is adjourned for the day and will resume Thursday at 8:30 a.m.
2:20 Dr. Kaplan is discussing portions of his report on Christopher Whitaker. The prosecution is asking him questions about statements Christopher Whitaker made about Alianna DeFreeze. The doctor says Whitaker recalls the sexual act but he could not recall the violent act because he "blacked out."
1:56 Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Mahmoud Awadallah is questioning Dr. Kaplan's education. He asks if the college he attended is a "real college." Dr. Kaplan says that it is.
1:45 Dr. Kaplan says Christopher Whitaker is "remorseful" about what he did to Alianna DeFreeze.
1:40 Dr. Kaplan says Christopher Whitaker does not have a "paraphillic disorder." It is described as recurring, intense, sexual urges and behaviors with the potential to cause harm.
1:34 Dr. Kaplan says that if Christopher Whitaker is put away for life, it is not likely that he will kill anyone or be a risk to the guards.
1:29 Dr. Kaplan says Christopher Whitaker was high on cocaine when he committed the offenses against Alianna DeFreeze.
1:27 Dr. Kaplan doesn't believe "we would be here today" if Christopher Whitaker's mother hadn't died, if he hadn't witnessed his sister's domestic violence and if he would have had positive male influences.
1:25 Dr. Kaplan says Christopher Whitaker's older sister was one of the only family members who cared for him. She is suffering from terminal brain cancer and it affected him.
1:12: Dr. Kaplan is back on the witness stand discussing his report. He says Christopher Whitaker seeing his sister beaten contributed to him becoming a "womanizer."
1:10 Court is back in session.
11:22 Court is in recess until 1pm.
11:18 Dr. Kaplan says he administered several tests to see if Christopher Whitaker was "faking" statements and emotions. He interviewed him for more than 4 hours, did more tests and now has a 55 page report about his findings.
11:09 The Defense calls Dr. Robert Kaplan to the witness stand. He is a scientist and clinical psychologist who is in private practice.
11:04 Santoli is asking Whitaker's older brother questions about Christopher's upbringing.
11:03 Whitaker's older brother says he got a him a job in construction but that Christopher would not show up for work sometimes, specifically on pay days. He believes drugs played a part in this but the family turns a "blind eye" towards it.
11:01 Whitaker's older brother says he was involved in drug dealing and tried to keep Christopher Whitaker away from it. He says Whitaker couldn't "sit still" and that made it hard for him to steer him in the right direction.
10:52 Christopher Whitaker's older brother is on the witness stand. He is 5 years older than Christopher. He does not want to be identified.
10:50 Christopher Whitaker is sitting with his head down, hands clasped as the licensed social worker talks about his upbringing and background.
10:45 The licensed social worker says she compiled her report based of court documents and background information from Christopher Whitaker's older sister, great aunt and older brother.
10:42 Andrew Santoli is asking the licensed social worker questions about how she compiled the information in her report about Christopher Whitaker's background and upbringing. She says her sources came from court documents, Whitaker's older sister and great aunt and Whitaker himself.
10:41 The licensed social worker says Christopher Whitaker has four children.
10:32 The licensed social worker is back on the witness stand. She is talking about how Christopher Whitaker's older sister's boyfriend verbally abused him as a child. She says that he was belittled and felt helpless.
10:30 Court is back in session.
10:10 Short recess for the jury members.
10:06 The licensed social worker is giving jury members some background about Christopher Whitaker's upbringing: she says he began smoking marijuana and crack and cocaine at a young age.
10:01 Some of Christopher Whitaker's family members will testify today. They do not want to be identified so we will not be showing their faces or naming them.
9:59 The social worker says she's become familiar with Christopher Whitaker's older sister and his great aunt.
9:51 The Defense has called its first witness, a licensed social worker. She's telling jury members about her credentials and what she's done.
9:45 Mack says Christopher Whitaker will make a statement to the jury members.
9:38 Fernando Mack, Defense Attorney is addressing jury members. He wants them to know these things about Christopher Whitaker : He is 45 years old, was born in Tennessee, he is 1 of 7 children, he lived with his mother until at the age of 8 years, until she died of kidney failure. His father was not around. His older sister packed up the family at 18 years old and moved the family to Cleveland to live with relatives. The attorney says at age 8, Whitaker lost his home, his school and everything he was familiar with him. His great-aunt raised him but she was not present. Sometimes he lived with his older sister who was dating a man who abused her and heroin. Mack says Whitaker observed abuse. He says he's telling the jury this information so that they can understand his background. His other brother will testify and will tell them about how Christopher was a "mama's boy." He also plans to tell the jury about how the brothers lived off illegal activities like selling drugs to survive. Mack says jury members will hear from Whitaker's older sister who is suffering from cancer right now. She is the sister who helped raised him.
9:31 Andrew Santoli, Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor is addressing jury members. He says the burden solely rests on the State of Ohio to prove beyond a reasonable doubt each of the felony murder specifications. kidnapping, rape, murder and burglary.
9:24 Judge Carolyn Friedland tells the jury that they may hear from Christopher Whitaker.
9:23 Court is in session.
We were not permitted to live stream during the trial but kept a live blog with the day-to-day testimonies.