Jordan Thomas King, 30 pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder and felony child abuse inflicting serious harm, the charges consolidated into one sentence of 177 to 225 months.
Standing before the judge, his military-grade haircut grown out, King held his hands clasped in front of him while answering “Yes, sir” and “No, sir” to the plea agreement questions posed by presiding Judge Ebern T. Watson.
“Are you in fact guilty of those crimes?” Watson asked the defendant.
After a pause from King, he replied “Yes, sir.”
The infant’s injuries
Deklin John King was born on Nov. 18, 2012. He was taken off life support on the morning of Feb. 13, 2013, and died that afternoon.
The autopsy report released in June 2013 said Deklin’s body showed signs of head hemorrhages and healing rib fractures, injuries likely sustained prior to the incident for which he was hospitalized, The Daily News reported.
King claimed he’d tripped over the family dog while holding Deklin when his son was first admitted to the hospital on Jan. 30, 2013.
On Feb. 5, 2013, the daycare called the Kings, saying Deklin was inconsolable and needed to be taken home, Assistant District Attorney Jamie Askins told the court. Deklin was taken to the hospital again on Feb. 8, 2013, after his father said he noticed his son’s eye was red, Askins said.
Doctors noted a “small, slight bruise” above Deklin’s left eye and his eyes were somewhat sunken.
Deklin appeared to be having a seizure.
His skull was fractured in two places and there was severe bruising on his head.
The injuries, doctors said, had likely occurred 24-to-48 hours prior to King bringing Deklin to the Naval Hospital.
King told NCIS Deklin may have hit his head while King held him in a gliding rocking chair.
The chair was taken during the investigation, but Askins said no forensic evidence was found to support King’s story; it was not possible for Deklin to sustain those types of injuries the way King claimed.
“He would not stop crying,” King told NCIS. “I was so tired.”
Deklin’s mother addresses the court
King’s now ex-wife, Amanda King, was also a Marine and was in the field at the time. It was the first time Jordan King was the sole caregiver of his two sons.
The mother brought two large, framed photos of her son to show the court and said she struggled with how to write a statement explaining to a room full of strangers what it was like to lose her son.
“His older brother asks about him every day,” she said.
From the time Deklin was admitted to the hospital, Amanda King said she’s had to make a lot of decisions.
“I had to decide to remove life support,” she said.
Amanda King moved to a new home and changed her career because other Marines knew about what happened.
But her infant son did more in his short life than others who have years to offer, Amanda King said. Deklin’s organs were donated and helped others, including a child who has now celebrated a 4th birthday.
King’s defense attorney Brett Wentz did not dispute any part of the narrative given by Askins.
Wentz told the court his client fought in combat operations as a Marine.
King was an electrical systems technician with Combat Logistics Battalion 22, a Marine since 2008 until his separation, The Daily News reported.
Wentz asked the judge to allow King to serve his sentence close to his parents’ home.
His family in Charlotte has visited King every month since his incarceration. Askins said he’s been in jail since 2013.
“He has unbelievable family support,” Wentz told the court.
King denied shaking his son when he was interviewed, said he would never hurt his son, but admitted to being annoyed with Deklin’s “incessant crying.”
“Deklin would not stop screaming,” he told NCIS.
The infant had been hit multiple times in the head, Askins told the court.
Due to Deklin’s age, aggravating circumstances applied for King’s case, and he was sentenced to approximately 15-to-19 years in prison.
Updated at 10:27 a.m.
King pleaded guilty to second degree murder and felony child abuse inflicting serious harm.
He was sentenced to 177 to 225 months in prison, approximately 19 years maximum.
A former Camp Lejeune Marine sergeant accused of killing his 2-month-old son is slated to appear in court this morning.
Deklin John King was brought to the Naval Hospital on base for treatment of suspected abuse before being airlifted to Greenville. He was taken off life support at 11 a.m. on Feb. 13, 2013, The Daily News reported, and by 1 p.m.that afternoon, he was dead.
Jordan Thomas King is accused of fracturing his son’s skull in two places and causing severe bruising on the back of his head, according to warrants.
King was an electrical systems technician with Combat Logistics Battalion 22, according to base officials. He joined in 2008, but Assistant District Attorney Jamie Askins said he has separated from the since his arrest.
King’s charge of intentional child abuse inflicting serious injury was changed to murder after Deklin’s death, The Daily News reported.
The autopsy report released in June 2013 showed Deklin had visited the hospital for suspected abuse twice prior to his head trauma. Deklin’s body showed signs of head hemorrhages and healing rib fractures, which King said were caused when he tripped over the family dog while holding Deklin, according to previous reports.
King has been in jail since his arrest, Askins said. The Daily News reported King was on suicide watch after his initial arrest.
The Daily News crime reporter, Amanda Thames, will be live tweeting the court proceedings from superior court. Follow her @AmandaThames for updates.
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