A Oklahoma County jury deliberated about 21/2 hours Monday before convicting an Edmond man in the beating death of his girlfriend's 2-year-old son.
Jurors convicted Rico Antwoine Berry, 28, of first-degree murder and child neglect in the Oct. 14, 2009, death of Jolen Babakhani.
They rejected defense claims that the fatal injuries were the result of play fighting.
The panel recommended life in prison without the possibility of parole on the first count and life in prison on the second count.
Berry is to be sentenced Feb. 22 before District Judge Glenn M. Jones.
The boy's mother, Sara Babakhani, of Edmond, wept as the verdicts were read.
Berry showed no emotion and looked away from jurors. He declined to comment outside court.
Babakhani took the stand last week and recounted for jurors how she returned from a day of classes at Langston University to find her son unresponsive and his lips blue.
She testified about trading texts and calls with Berry while the boy was in his care and said he never indicated the child was seriously injured until she pulled into the parking lot of their apartment complex.
Prosecutors said Berry severely beat the child and then kept quiet despite having a cellphone and a car at his disposal.
“He did nothing to seek help,” Assistant District Attorney Gayland Gieger said following the verdict.
The boy suffered blunt force trauma to the head, which caused irreparable brain damage. He also had “massive” bruising on his throat, forehead and back, prosecutors said.
“There's no explanation for that other than abuse or a high-speed automobile accident,” Gieger said.
Berry's attorney told jurors he was play fighting with the boy and didn't intend to harm him, just “toughen him up” at the mother's request.
“He wasn't doing anything that he hadn't done before,” Assistant Public Defender Jim Hughes said in his closing argument. “What he did was not unreasonable as he saw it under the circumstances.”