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[UPDATE] Lake Park Man Sentenced to Life in Prison

By: Gabrielle Sarann Email
By: Gabrielle Sarann Email

Valdosta, Georgia - July 21, 2011

Since his conviction two months ago, Lake Park resident and father of two, Brandon Thompson, has been behind bars for the death of 2-year-old Abriana Thomas.

Today, Judge Richard Cowart sentenced Thompson to life in prison.

Prosecutor Meredith Brasher spoke on the victim's behalf.

"I know that they were pleased with the sheriff's department's hard work," says Brasher, on behalf of the lead attorney, Laura Wood. "And with Laura's work on the case and they were pleased with the verdict."

When deputies arrived at the Thompson's Sequina Road home in September 2009, Abriana had suffered blunt force trauma to the head and was nearly lifeless.

Defense attorney's allege Thompson was watching TV, when Abriana fell off the toilet and hit her head.

They say that's when Thompson called 911.

WCTV spoke with Thompson's sister, Kiley, who had no comment about today's sentencing. She did say that she and her family have been following the trial and focusing on healing and moving forward with their lives.

"They feel relieved that the process is over as far as court goes," says Brasher. "But they're gonna have a long road before they're ever whole again."

Thompson was granted the possibility of parole for good behavior.

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Valdosta, Georgia - July 21, 2011

Brandon Thompson will be sentenced at the Lowndes County Jail at 2 p.m. Jail Courtroom 1.

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Valdosta, Georgia - May 25, 2011

A jury finds a Lake Park man guilty of murdering his girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter.

"The only people who remember what happened are Brandon and Abriana," says defense attorney Byron Watson. "They were the only two people in the bathroom."

In its final pitch to the jury, the defense called Brandon Thompson's murder case speculation. They say there's no direct evidence to show what really happened on September 29, 2009.

"[There's] no shred of evidence that Brandon ever was mad, that he was ever irate," says Watson. "He never hit the kids."

But prosecutors argued Thompson lost his temper and severely injured 2-year-old Abriana, when he went into the bathroom to clean her up.

Prosecutor Laura Wood says, "This child did not climb up on this potty seat to go to the bathroom, and then clean herself off."

Wood later summarizes, "Abriana says 'pee,' has to go to the bathroom. He tells you she goes back to the bathroom, toddles on her own esteem. Both doctors said there's no way she could be able to do that. She would be rendered unconscious immediately. Period. End of Story."

At 3:30 p.m., a verdict was reached convicting Thompson of cruelty to a child and murdering 2-year-old Abriana Thomas.

Thompson will be sentenced at the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office on July 21.

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Valdosta, Georgia - May 25, 2011

Jurors deliberated for two hours before finding Brandon Thompson, 30, guilty of felony murder and cruelty to a child in the death of 2-year-old Abriana Thomas.

Thompson will be sentenced on July 21 at the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office.

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Valdosta, Georgia - May 25, 2011

Testimony continued in the trial of a Lake Park man accused of murdering his girlfriend's daughter.

Wednesday afternoon, defendant Brandon Thompson, 30, took the stand in his own defense.

He says he never hurt 2-year-old Abriana Thomas.

"I heard a noise coming from the back," explains Thompson. " [I] went back there and Adriana was in the bathroom. So, I went back there to check on her and found her laying on the floor."

Thompson says on September 29, 2009, he found Abriana laying on her back in front of the toilet and beside the vanity.

"I picked her up," testified Thompson, who went on to say she was unresponsive. He says he placed her in a recliner and then on the kitchen table.

Abriana was life-flighted to Shands Hospital in Gainesville, where she died soon after.

"We don't see this type of bleeding in the eye in a one-directional, simple fall," says Lara Darrisaw, M.D, a forensic pathologist with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).

Darrisaw testified that Abriana suffered at least four head and neck contusions, including two skull fractures. A combination likely from multiple impacts.

"If the head is shaken, where it moves around a lot, you see a lot in hemorrhaging like this," explained Darrisaw.

Witness Mori Stern, M.D, testified that Abriana's injuries may have been caused by severe shaking. "This particular photo shows bruising on the chin," shows Stern, as she circled a picture of Abriana in evidence.

She goes on to say and a series of brain injuries caused by tremendous force.

"Significant skull fracture, bleeding around multiple tissue layers around her brain, says Stern, a pediatrician with Shands Hospital in Gainesville. "Bleeding within the brain tissue."

Autopsy results showed Abriana died from blunt trauma injuries to the head.

Cross examinations begin Thursday at 9:30 a.m.

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Valdosta, Georgia - May 24, 2011

Tuesday morning, Brandon Thompson, 30, sat in Judge Richard Cowart's courtroom reading a penalty book before his trial began.

He faces life in prison for the murder of 2-year-old Abriana Thomas.

Abriana's mother, Amanda Alling, testified that after leaving the house to pick up -pizza on September 29, she returned to find Abriana laying on the kitchen table.

She says Thompson was standing by her on a 9-1-1 call, "I threw the pizzas on the counter, walked up to her and I first tried to pick her up, talk to her, but he told me to lay her back down. He said leave her flat," she says.

Abriana was life-flighted to Shands Hospital in Gainesville, where doctors declared her brain dead and took her off life support.

"I couldn't sit there, and watch them, as horrible as it sounds finish her off," says Alling, from the witness stand. "I couldn't [sit] there and watch that."

Defense attorney Katherine Gonos argues that this was an accident. She said Thompson was watching TV when Abriana fell off the toilet and hit her head.

"He hears a thud or a thump from the bathroom," says Gonos during opening statements. "He immediately runs into the bathroom, sees her laying on the ground and he starts yelling her name, 'Abriana, Abriana!'"

But prosecutor Laura Wood says the 2-year-old suffered massive head trauma and bruising to her face and chest, caused by more than a fall.

Eight minutes of 9-1-1 recordings played for the jury captured the moments following Abriana's collapse.

Operator: "She is breathing then right? Is she still unconscious?"
Thompson: "Abriana, honey, Abriana!"
Operator: "Brandon?"
Thompson: "She's breathing!

But what is less clear is how Abriana fell and why she went to the bathroom alone.

Thompson has been out of jail on $100,000 bond.

There's a long list of witnesses slated to take the stand. The second day of trial continues Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

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[UPDATE] 5-23 Noon

Jury selection is now underway in the trial of a south Georgia man accused of killing his girlfriend's daughter.

The State of Georgia versus Brandon Thompson will be heard at the Superior Court of Lowndes County.

In 2009, Thompson was arrested for murdering 2-year-old Abriana Thomas in Lake Park.

Authorities say the toddler died from blunt force trauma to the head.

Thompson is charged with felony murder and cruelty to children.

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Valdosta, Georgia - May 21, 2011

The State of Georgia versus Brandon Thompson will be heard at the Superior Court of Lowndes County.

In 2009, Thompson was arrested for murdering 2-year-old Abriana Thomas on the 5200 Block of Sequina Drive in Lake Park.

Authorities say the toddler died from blunt force trauma to the head.

Thompson is charged with felony murder and cruelty to children.


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