Harve Johnson
Harve Johnson
Found guilty of first-degree murder, Harve Lamar Johnson could find out as early as Monday what his punishment will be.

Monday, York County prosecutors Tim Barker and Chris Moore will present evidence seeking the death penalty for Johnson.

A jury convicted Johnson, 28, Friday for the April 6, 2008 fatal beating of 2-year-old Darisabel Baez, the daughter of his girlfriend.

During the trial, the prosecution could not use the word "torture" to describe the events leading to Darisabel's death. That roadblock will be removed during the penalty phase and the prosecution will argue that "torture" and the age of the victim are two "aggravating circumstances" that make Darisabel's murder deserving of the death penalty.

Darisabel Baez
Darisabel Baez (Submitted photo)

Following Friday's verdict, Barker said, "You cannot commit this kind of act on a 2-year-old and not have in mind, 'I intend to kill this person.' The evidence overwhelmingly supported it."

Moore said, "Regardless how it plays out next week, he will never breathe free air again. I'm satisfied with that."

Defense attorney Rick Robinson declined to comment after the verdict. Monday, defense attorney Ari Weitzman will handle the penalty phase for Johnson.

Patti O'Brien, the York Hospital forensic nurse who took pictures of Darisabel's injuries as a trauma team frantically treated her, returned to court for the completion of the trial after testifying earlier this week. O'Brien's graphic photos of Darisabel's battered body were shown to the jury during trial.

Friday after the verdict, O'Brien, who also is an emergency trauma nurse, called Darisabel's injuries "the most horrific beating I've ever seen."

"She wasn't here to tell her story," O'Brien said. "Her pictures were able to tell her story."

Darisabel's grandparents, Margarita and Luis Leon, both said, "Justice has been served."

"She's resting in peace now," Margarita Leon said.

Margarita Leon said she can muster no forgiveness for Johnson.

"I'm sorry. No.

Neida Baez
Neida Baez
At least now I know he's not going to hurt anybody else."

Thursday, Darisabel's mother, Neida Elizabeth Baez, testified for the commonwealth. First assistant public defender Clasina Mahony, the attorney for Darisabel's mother Neida Elizabeth Baez, 21, said was "heavily medicated for depression" when she testified.

"It was not a lack of feeling," she said. "It was not a lack of remorse. She will live with that the rest of her life."

Mahoney also confirmed Baez attempted suicide in prison.

Baez pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in an arrangement that will send her to prison for five to 10 years.

When she sat down in the witness stand, Baez spotted her mother in the courtroom gallery and mouthed the words, "I love you, mommy."

"I was saying to her that I loved her," Margarita Leon said. "She is still my daughter."

Closing arguments

The jury deliberated for less than two hours this afternoon after hearing closing arguments.

This morning, Robinson told the York County jury that Johnson killed Darisabel Baez.

"What you saw was bad," Robinson said. "What you heard is bad. What he did is bad. It's criminal."

But Robinson argued that Johnson, 28, did not have the "specific intent to kill" Darisabel when he brutally beat her with a video game cord and her own hiking boot on April 6, 2008.

A specific intent to kill is a prerequisite for the jury to return a verdict of guilty to first-degree murder.

"You have to make a finding of what his state of mind was," Robinson said.

Prosecutor Tim Barker told the jurors that "science and medicine" could tell them Johnson's intent.

While photographs shown during the trial revealed the ghastly injuries to Darisabel's body, Barker focused much of his closing arguments on the unseen injuries to her brain, heart, lungs and other organs.

"You don't beat anyone to the head like this," Barker said. "Not when they are already down. Not when you already beat them. Unless you intend to kill them."

Barker reminded the jury Dr. Wayne K. Ross, the pathologist who performed Darisabel's autopsy, concluded any of the injuries to the major organs could have been fatal.

"You don't have a death blow here," Barker said. "You have multiple death blows.

"There were multiple blows to the head, multiple blows to the torso. Multiple death blows.

"There was only one thing going through his mind. He wanted her dead."

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