HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — A jury Friday found a man charged with killing his 20-month-old daughter guilty of capital murder.
The capital murder trial for Lionel Francis started Thursday morning. The killing took place in May of 2016 at the Lockwood Court home Francis shared with his girlfriend, Ashley Ross, and their daughter Alexandria.
During Ross’ testimony Thursday, prosecutors played two phone calls: her 911 call after the shooting and a phone call Francis made to her from jail on the day of their daughter’s funeral. The 911 call lasted several minutes and the sounds of Ross’ screams, anguish and fear reverberated around the courtroom. The jail call included Francis trying to tell Ross that he didn’t shoot their daughter, that the gun went off. An angry Ross told him repeatedly not to insult her intelligence.
Francis gave her a slightly different explanation for why the gun went off. He said his knee – which he’d previously injured and had surgery on – was hurting and he was moving to put the gun away under the mattress, when his knee buckled and the gun fired. Ross angrily rejected the account, pointing out that it’s not common to cock a gun just as you’re putting it away.
The prosecution’s last witness, Dr. Valerie Green, a state medical examiner, testified the nature of the child’s wound was consistent with a gun being pressed with force against her forehead and then fired.
The defense rested Friday morning before closing arguments. Prosecutor Tim Douthit argued against the accidental shooting defense. Douthit added there wasn’t an apparent motive for Francis to kill his daughter, but that it didn’t change facts.
The defense acknowledged the pain heard during Ross’ 911 call and urged the jury to consider facts and law.