Harvey L. Bryant, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Virginia Beach, announced that Jerrell Cortez Edwards, 24 years old, previously residing in the 5000 block of Joslin Court in Virginia Beach, Virginia, was found guilty by a jury of Second Degree Felony Murder and Child Abuse/Neglect. The jury recommended he serve 30 years in prison. Circuit Court Judge H. Thomas Padrick, who presided over the three-day jury trial, will formally sentence Edwards on December 9, 2013.
The Commonwealth’s evidence proved that on the evening of April 5, 2012, 2-year-old Jaidan Lewis’ mother attended a college class, leaving Jaidan in the care of her boyfriend, Jerrell Edwards. When she returned to the home hours later, Edwards told her that Jaidan was bleeding from the mouth and unresponsive. Edwards attempted to perform CPR on the child and the mother called 911. EMS responded and transported Jaidan to Sentara Bayside Hospital, where he was pronounced dead hours later.
Investigators with the Virginia Beach Police Department determined that Jaidan was alone in the care of Edwards that evening when Jaidan’s injuries were inflicted. Edwards admitted that while he was changing Jaidan, Jaidan’s lip was cut on Edwards’ watch. He then held the baby’s mouth under running water in the bathtub multiple times to rinse off the blood. He then left Jaidan alone in a room with a bottle of water and went to video chat with an ex-girlfriend.
The cause of death was blunt force trauma to the abdomen. Two of the injures were fatal: a ruptured stomach and liver. Jaidan also had bruises and lacerations to connective tissue in the abdomen, bruising of the large intestine, pancreas, and left lung, bruising and laceration at the transverse colon, multiple bruises to the left side of his face and head, a bruise to the right side of his face, abrasions to both cheeks which were pattern marks consistent with adult fingernail gouging, bilateral bruised rib muscles, and lacerations to his upper and lower lip. His abdomen was rigid and distended, due to fluid and gasses in the abdomen.
After his arrest, Edwards consented to an interview with WAVY television from the Virginia Beach jail. During the interview, Edwards made rambling statements about being the only adult home with Jaidan that night and apologized to Jaidan’s parents, although he never admitted to beating Jaidan.
Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney L. Diane Nelms and Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Philip C. Hollowell prosecuted the case. Please contact Macie Pridgen if additional information is desired.