A Banning woman who stood by while her boyfriend fatally beat her 2-year-old son and then tried to cover for him when they were both arrested was convicted today of second-degree murder and child abuse.
A Riverside jury deliberated a little over three days before finding 23-year-old Davia Damanique James guilty in the Nov. 11, 2011, death of her son, Robert Voorhees.
James faces 15 years to life in prison when she’s sentenced by Riverside County Superior Court Judge Bernard Schwartz on Nov. 2.
Her boyfriend, 24-year-old Andrew Lee Payne, is expected to be sentenced the same day to 25 years to life behind bars.
The defendants had separate juries because different witnesses were called to testify against them.
“I’m happy both juries took their time and took this case seriously, giving a fair trial to both sides,” Deputy District Attorney Kevin Beecham told City News Service.
Last week, a jury convicted Payne of second-degree murder and assault on a child resulting in great bodily injury for beating Robert to the point of inflicting catastrophic internal injuries.
Beecham described the tot’s death as “horrific,” telling jurors that the child was hit repeatedly in the kidneys and suffered a “ fractured spine,
a collapsed lung, cerebral edema and a herniated brain.”
The official cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.
According to Beecham, the youngster was left under Payne’s supervision on Nov. 7, 2011, while James went to a doctor’s appointment and ran errands for most of the day. By the time she came home that afternoon, her son appeared to be sleeping, the prosecutor said.
In fact, the boy was virtually comatose, unresponsive and slipping away.
When paramedics were summoned to the single-story house at 1435 W. Hays St., they initially believed Robert was dead, Beecham said.
The child was taken to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where he was declared brain dead on Nov. 11 and removed from life support.
Beecham said that Payne, a convicted drug user, severely beat the boy, and James, fully aware of what was going on, covered for him.
The pair have had two children together. The last baby was born after James was jailed. The toddlers, about a year apart, are in the care of Payne’s family.