Jury: Havard should die for murder of 6-month-old

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 19, 2002

NATCHEZ &045; Jeffery Keith Havard was sentenced to death by lethal injection Tuesday morning for killing and sexually assaulting 6-month-old Chloe Madison Britt.

When Judge Forrest &uot;Al&uot; Johnson read the jury’s decision, it was as though the force of his words pushed the air from the courtroom.

In the moments that followed, the vacuum filled with a rush of emotions: Britt’s family seemed to collapse with relief, Havard’s with horror.

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The defendant himself, who had shown no signs of fear or worry during the trial, became red-faced and let out a barely-audible moan.

After two days of graphic and disturbing details about Britt’s Feb. 21 death, the jury took just over a half-hour to deliver a guilty verdict Wednesday afternoon.

But when it came to deciding whether Havard, 24, should live or die, the 10 women and two men needed more time.

Two hours into their deliberation Wednesday, the jury stopped to ask the court exactly what life in prison would mean for Havard.

One hour later, the jury requested a recess until the following morning due to &uot;extreme fatigue.&uot;

After a night’s rest, the jurors returned, but they appeared to have hit a snag when the asked for clarification on what would happen if they failed to reach a unanimous decision.

That point turned out to be moot, though. The jury found Havard’s crime to be sufficient to warrant the death penalty.

The victim’s mother and grandmother, Rebecca Britt and Lillian Watson, both of whom testified earlier, chose not make any statement in court.

Havard, who did not take the stand during the trial, said only, &uot;I have nothing to say.&uot;

Before sending Havard to begin his wait for execution on death row at the Mississippi Department of Corrections facility in Parchman, Johnson thanked the jury for its difficult decision and urged the victim’s and defendant’s

families to leave the pain of the Britt’s murder and Havard’s sentence behind.

When Johnson spoke to Havard, he was unable to conceal his feelings. &uot;Just when you think you’ve seen everything,&uot; he said, &uot;someone like you comes along to show us a new low.&uot;

Havard’s case will be automatically appealed.