280-Pound Man Convicted In Baby's Beating Death

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - A jury deliberated about three hours before finding a 6-foot-8, 280-pound man guilty of murder, child endangerment and felonious assault in a baby's beating death.

Orlando Powe faces 15 years to life in prison when Summit County Common Pleas Judge Jane Bond sentences him Feb. 25.

Family members remained firm in their belief that Powe is innocent, saying he would never harm a child.

The 31-year-old Akron man showed no emotion as the verdicts were announced Thursday. Powe's mother, Willa Johnson, 49, wailed uncontrollably and later collapsed in a hallway and was taken to a hospital.

Powe, according to trial testimony, hit 3-month-old Elijah Amos on the head, which fractured the infant's skull. He then placed Elijah on a bed for five hours before the child's mother, Elbony Amos, came home to find her baby's body.

Assistant Summit County Prosecutor Connie Haslinger alleged the baby's crying sent Powe into a rage while he was supposed to baby-sit alone on June 18. She presented medical evidence showing that Elijah could have survived the injury had Powe sought medical treatment.

Instead, she contended, Powe put the child on a bed and allowed him to die.

"I think the jury did a great job in accepting the evidence," Haslinger said.

Elijah Amos' death was originally perceived as sudden infant death syndrome. However, an autopsy performed the day after his death revealed bruises and a skull fracture behind his left ear.

Powe, who is not the child's father, was with Elijah most of the day while Elbony Amos went to work. Akron police detectives testified that Powe admitted hitting the boy in anger with an elbow.

However, the alleged confession was not taped. And during the trial, Powe testified that he made no such admission. Powe told jurors that his day with Elijah was uneventful and that he doesn't know how the child's skull was fractured. Later in his testimony, he said the baby fell from a bed.

Elbony Amos, 20, said her affection for Powe doesn't sway her hope that he spends the rest of his life in prison.

"I'm happy because my son got justice," she said.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)