GREAT FALLS — A 22-year-old Great Falls man was convicted Monday of killing his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter.
A Cascade County jury deliberated for less than three hours before finding Jerimie Hicks guilty of deliberate homicide and solicitation to tamper with evidence in the death of Kaelyn Bray. Hicks, who was stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base at the time of the death, will remain in custody without bail until he is sentenced in six weeks.
County Attorney John Parker said he would seek a life sentence without parole.
Prosecutors said the former airman severely beat Kaelyn on Feb. 26, leading to her death from brain injuries three days later. But Hicks, who was the only one with the girl when she was injured, said she suffered minor injuries when he shoved her into the wall out of frustration. He told police she fell down the stairs later after tripping on their puppy.
Parker, who portrayed Hicks as someone who continually changed his story, pointed to testimony from emergency responders and doctors who said they did not believe the girl's injuries were consistent with a fall down the stairs.
Meanwhile, defense attorney Ed Sheehy argued the state did not present any evidence that Kaelyn's injuries were not caused by an accident. Sheehy did not offer any comment after the verdict was read.
Hicks faced the solicitation to tamper with evidence charge for asking his mother to remove his bloody uniform from his house. Investigators found a uniform with blood stains on the boots and pants that matched Kaelyn's DNA profile.