Kenisha Berry's family during her trial
Ive been sick, really freaking sick. I have a pile of letters that are unopened.
So we'll leave you in suspense by saying that I have a letter from Antoinette Frank sitting on the table unopened for three days. I see one from Kenisha Berry, I have never written to her so I'll be interested to see what it says.
There is an envelope from Darlie Routier and Adam Frank as well.
When I feel better Ill open them and give you the goods.
On November 29, 1998, in Jefferson County, Texas, Berry placed duct tape across the body and mouth of her 4 day old son, placed him in a black plastic trash bag and left his body in a trash dumpster, resulting in his death.
HOUSTON (AP) - Kenisha Berry worked in a day-care center and seemed to be a loving mother to three of her young children.
But the Beaumont woman is heading to Texas' death row for killing another child, who was linked to her last summer after she dumped her fifth child in a ditch.
Authorities continue to wonder why.
"That whole aspect of the case was rather cloudy - as to why she actually did it," prosecutor Wendell Radford said Friday, a day after Berry, 26, was sentenced to death.
Authorities have wondered whether Berry was trying to make sure the father of the three children she was raising - born in 1994, 1996 and 2000 - never knew she had children with two other men.
Another possible motive prosecutors considered was that Berry didn't like the fathers of the two children she abandoned, Radford said.
Jefferson County Sheriff's Department detective Debbie Beavers made the connection between the two abandoned newborns.
After the infant girl was found alive in a ditch in June, tipsters told police that Berry might be the mother. During questioning, Berry acknowledged that she abandoned her daughter and said she had thrown some evidence from the birth at an apartment complex trash bin - where the infant boy had been found dead in 1998.
"That has always been my number-one question for her, and she never would answer it," Beavers said. "Still today, she would never tell anyone why."
The infant girl who survived still has scars from hundreds of ant bites she suffered before a passer-by spotted her, Radford said. The baby remains in the custody of Child Protective Services while Berry's three other children are cared for by relatives.
Berry will become the ninth woman awaiting lethal injection in Texas. Currently, there are 447 inmates on Texas' death row, prison spokesman Mike Viesca said.
During her trial, Berry told jurors she found her newborn son dead just three days after his birth and became frightened, her defense attorney Ronnie Cohee said Friday.
She placed duct tape over the baby's open mouth and taped his arms to his chest because they were outstretched and stiff, then disposed of the body, Cohee said.
South Texas College of Law professor Shelby A.D. Moore said it would not be unlikely for a mother to pose a child after death, comparing the actions to those of Houston mother Andrea Yates, convicted of capital murder in 2002. After drowning her five children, Yates placed four of them in a bed, carefully laying the baby girl's head on another child's arm.
However, "it would still not explain why one would put the tape over a child's mouth, except to keep it quiet while it was dying," Moore said.
Berry didn't know how to ask for help, Cohee said.
"If you are unmarried and you are pregnant, our society does not recognize it as a good idea," Cohee said.
During jury selection, Berry refused a plea deal that would have allowed a life sentence because "she could not plead guilty to something that she did not feel like she had done," Cohee said.
Strong evidence - Berry's fingerprint on the duct tape on the baby boy's body, a palm print lifted from the garbage bag and medical evidence that the newborn died in the trash bag - led to the conviction, Radford said.
The abandonment of the second baby in June showed that Berry could be a future danger, proof of which is needed to secure a death sentence, Radford said.
"I really can't, in my mind, imagine a more heinous crime," he said. "She did this not on one, but on two different occasions."