Jury finds man guilty of first-degree murder in beating death of toddler

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A jury found a father guilty of beating his  23-month-old to death.

Jurors deliberated for roughly five hours Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning before finding Andre Hampton guilty of first-degree murder by torture, first-degree felony-murder, and two counts of felony child abuse.

Prosecutors said Hampton beat 23-month-old, Elijah, to death in a South Tryon Street motel in November 2008 because he wouldn't eat his soup.

They told jurors Hampton beat Elijah with a toothbrush, hairbrush, and belt dozens of times over a four hour stretch.

They said Hampton wouldn't let Elijah doze off and forcedhim to stand, not sit, for 45 minutes as punishment.

They also described how Elijah tried to crawl away and tried to hide before finally going "floppy and limp." Ultimately, Elijah's 6-year-old sister called 911, but it was too late.

Defense lawyers admitted Hampton beat and killed Elijah, but said he didn't mean to kill the toddler.

They told jurors Hampton loved his little son and wanted him to eat so he grew up strong, smart, and fast.

They said Hampton wasn't a monster or a maniac, he just didn't know how to discipline a child.

They said Hampton grew up in a violent home, was a young father, and was working overnight shifts, making little money and getting little sleep. Hampton took the stand in his own defense.

Now jurors have to decide whether to sentence Hampton to death.

Prosecutors wanted to start the sentencing phase Wednesday, but defense lawyers asked for more time to prepare and a juror had a scheduling conflict. So the judge decided to start sentencing Monday morning.