Jury to decide life or death in beaten toddler trial

Jury to decide life or death in beaten toddler trial


by TONY BURBECK / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @TonyWCNC


Posted on March 12, 2013 at 5:52 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 4:11 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Jurors deciding the fate of a father convicted of abusing and murdering his 23-month-old son are expected to hear closing arguments in the sentencing phase Wednesday.

The jury must decide if 27-year-old Andre Hampton gets life in prison or death row for the brutal murder of his son.  One investigator says Elijah Burger's murder was the worst he has seen with more injuries than he could count.

In 2008, Hampton beat Elijah  with a brush and belt after the toddler wouldn't listen. 

Tuesday in court, Hampton's mother testified she beat her son and so did the men in her life, including boyfriends and husbands.  She says the beatings happened with brushes and belts, and some of Hampton's whippings were while he was naked. 

April Hampton Gadson says the beatings were just part of life to punish Andre and his siblings when they got into trouble. She let the men in her life punish Hampton because they were providing for the family, Gadson said.

A psychologist who testified at the end of the day Tuesday said Hampton's family has a history of abuse.

Hampton's sister Arriel told jurors her brother was her protector, because Andre told their mother that the mom's boyfriend at the time was molesting her.

Arriel Hampton also testified that Andre cared for Elijah and provided food, clothing and diapers.

A psychiatrist told jurors Hampton suffers from chronic depression and chronic sleeping problems, but says Hampton did not use his history of being abused as a reason for murdering his son.

Hampton's mother cited her own issues with anxiety and depression, including a three week-long hospitalization.

"If affects them deeply.  They hurt for you," Gadson said.

Prosecutors say testing showed Hampton does not have PTSD due to the abuse he encountered as a kid.

Upon redirect, the psychiatrist also said Hampton does not have the psychological profile of other murder defendants she has worked with.

Some of Hampton's former teachers, a coach and former boss called him a social butterfly, good worker, good helper and someone they did not have to discipline.

It's up to the jury to decide if the aggravating factor of Elijah's death, being heinous and cruel, outweighs the mitigating factors friends and family testified about. 

That decision will determine if Hampton gets life or death row.