Norfolk woman found guilty for 2nd degree murder of 20-month-old

Posted at 12:04 PM, Sep 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-01 16:52:23-04

Norfolk, Va. - Emily Defries has been found guilty of the murder of her ex-fiance's 20-month-old daughter.

She has been charged with second degree murder.

The jury recommended 20 years for the conviction of one count of second degree murder.  Her formal sentencing is scheduled for January.

Defries plead not guilty to malicious wounding and murder charges on Monday.

A former medical examiner said that 20-month-old Anna Belle was not shaken to death, but hit with something that has a large, flat surface on Wednesday.

The man is now a private consultant and defense witness for lawyers representing Emily Defries

The defense attorney showed pictures of a bunk bed in the room of the baby girl's then 8-year-old sister in court on September 30.

The consultant said the flat stairs of the bunk bed could have caused the deadly injury to her head.

This goes against what the doctor who performed the autopsy on the baby told a courtroom on September 24, 2014: "The child most likely died from being shaken and slammed."

The Commonwealth's attorney fired back at the defense doctor, questioning his credibility.

She referred to him as a "professional expert witness" for defense attorneys and called him out for charging $4,000 to testify, in addition to several hundred dollars an hour to review the case.

The consultant said that money is partly for his travel expenses and waking up at 4:00 a.m. to come to the trial.

Throughout the trial, the defense attorney has implied that Anna's big sister is responsible for the baby's death.

The 8-year-old sister of the toddler, who was allegedly murdered, testified in court on Tuesday.

On Monday, the defense attorney implied that all of the bruises found on the toddler were caused by the 8-year-old.

The attorney said the two had a very violent relationship, and she was the one responsible for killing the baby.

However, 24-year-old Emily Defries is accused of killing her boyfriend's 20-month-old daughter at their Norfolk home last year.

NewsChannel 3 reporter Gabriella DeLuca was in the courtroom when the 8-year-old girl testified as witness during her baby sister's murder trial.

The girl had a Kleenex in one hand and a stuffed animal in the other.

The little girl responded with "I don't know" and "I don't remember" several times during the trial.

The girl said she wanted to play with baby Anna, but Anna was sleeping.

The girl says the day Anna Belle died, she went up to smile at her sister.

The girls' dad also testified and said he supported Defries--until recently.


Emily Defries

Back in May 2014, paramedics arrived to their Gregory Drive home and found the infant unresponsive. The baby girl was pronounced dead 30 minutes later at the hospital.

The former Sailor told detectives the 20-month-old was sleeping, while her son and the victim's older sister were playing outside in the backyard.

When she came inside to check on the infant - Defries says she found the baby at the bottom of the stairs and that the baby must have fallen down.

Court records show the 20-month-old girl suffered a fractured skull and several bruises on her tiny body.

An autopsy says it was no accident.

The doctor went on to say Anna Belle had injuries all over her body, including under her chin, her stomach and back, and behind her ear. The fatal injury was a large fracture to her skull, according to the doctor.

Two doctors said a fall down the stairs didn't kill the baby, given the extent of her injuries.

Anna Belle's mother also testified and said she never saw bruises on her daughter until her ex started dating Defries.

Three of Defries' aquaintances all said they never saw anything unusual happen when they saw her and baby Anna together.

Stay with NewsChannel 3 for updates on the Emily Defries court case as it develops.


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Court date for former Sailor accused in death of toddler

Autopsy reveals murdered 20-month-old girl had fractured skull, bruises all over body

Norfolk woman arrested, charged in death of 20-month-old girl