Deadly discipline - Vicksburg mother beat 5-year-old to death because he couldn't count to 20
By staff and wire reports, The Clarion Ledger, November 18, 2006

VICKSBURG A 30-year-old woman convicted of beating her 5-year-old son to death because he could not count to 20 will serve a life sentence for capital murder.

The jury deadlocked 11-1 Thursday on the death penalty for Towander Broadhead. It took less than hour to convict her of killing Kenderick Broadhead.

Broadhead's daughter, 13-year-old Royteshia Perkins, testified Wednesday that the Escatawpa woman beat Kenderick all over the house on the day of his death, using a belt, a book, a broomstick and a plastic rod used to open blinds.

"I certainly thought it was a case for the death penalty, but I fully respect the jury's decision," District Attorney Tony Lawrence said in a statement.

When she took the stand, Broadhead said her weak spirituality allowed her to submit to the will of Satan.

"I don't think I was possessed, but I think the devil set me up big time for this," she said.

Broadhead, 27 at the time of the killing, said she meant to correct the boy, who kept missing 16 as he tried to count to 20. But the Vicksburg jury didn't believe her testimony.

The trial was moved from Jackson County, where a judge ruled Broadhead would not be able to receive a fair trial because of media coverage.

Her defense attorney, George Shaddock, said Broadhead believed education was the only way for the child to escape the life of poverty and child abuse she suffered growing up. In closing arguments, he told jurors she did not realize the boy was seriously injured when he died in February 2004.

Jurors were not given the option of convicting Broadhead of manslaughter, which carries a lighter penalty.

Broadhead testified that her mother hit her in the face with a pipe when she was 5 and that the woman fired a gun at her as an adolescent.

Lawrence countered her remarks on cross-examination.

"All that stuff is not an excuse for what you did to 5-five-year old Kenderick Broadhead," he said.

Forensic pathologist Paul McGary testified the boy's wounds were consistent with an attack similar to the one described by Perkins.

Broadhead's husband, the late Willie Earl Thomas, was charged with accessory after the fact to capital murder for his role in the disposing of the body about 40 miles from the couple's home.

Broadhead said dumping the body in rural Harrison County was Thomas' idea as well as dialing 911 and reporting her son missing.


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