FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2019
COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that a St. Tammany Parish jury found Anthony Dearmas, 27, of New Orleans, guilty Friday (July 19) of first-degree murder in the death of his son, 6-week-old Karter Smith. Dearmas faces mandatory life in prison with no possibility of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence when he is sentenced Aug. 19 before District Judge Alan Zaunbrecher.
In the early morning of May 10, 2017, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s deputies were called to a mobile home in Slidell, where they found the severely injured child. The baby’s mother testified that she had left the 6-week-old twins and her 3-year-old son home with Dearmas while she went to work. She testified that she was still at work when she received a call from Dearmas, who said that Karter, one of the twins, wasn’t breathing.
The panicked mother then called a relative, who lived with them in the mobile home and was returning home when he got the telephone call. He testified that when he walked in the house, he found Dearmas, sitting on the sofa and staring blankly at the child, who was already turning blue.
The relative called 9-1-1, but when paramedics arrived, Dearmas angrily tried to prevent them from administering medical treatment to Karter. A deputy on the scene ultimately grabbed the car seat, carrying the injured child, from the hands of Dearmas so that paramedics could assist. The infant later died from his injuries.
When questioned by police, Dearmas initially stated that he had gone to take a shower and that Karter’s 3-year-old sibling had picked him up and dropped him twice. But Dearmas changed his story multiple times, ultimately admitting that he became frustrated because he could not soothe the screaming child, and struck him twice, knocking him to the floor.
Defense attorneys argued that Karter’s death was a manslaughter, not first-degree murder because Dearmas did not intend to kill the child. Prosecutors rebutted those claims, presenting autopsy photos that captured the severity of the child’s injuries, which included seven skull fractures. Prosecutors also showed Dearmas’s videotaped statements to police in which he admitted to striking the child, walking away to calm himself, but then returning to strike the crying child again
“You don’t get to hit a baby, crush the entire right side of his skull and then say, ‘I didn’t intend to kill him,’” Assistant District Attorney Angad Ghai said during his closing argument.
Defense attorneys also argued that Dearmas’s judgment was impaired because of diminished mental capacity. Ghai and Assistant District Attorney Blake Peters, who assisted in the prosecution, presented psychiatrists who testified that they found Dearmas was mentally competent enough at the time of the crime to understand right from wrong.
The jury deliberated about 1½ hours before voting 11 to 1 in favor of the first-degree murder conviction, rejecting Dearmas’s claim that he was not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.