Philadelphia Chief Medical Examiner Sam Gulino testified that Khalil's brain was bleeding - possibly from a blow to the head - and his 29-pound body was much smaller than it should have been at his age. He died from physical abuse and starvation, with a head injury being "the straw that broke the camel's back," the doctor said.
The short life and horrific death of Khalil was recounted in painstaking detail by prosecution witnesses and depicted by the autopsy photos, which showed the child's bruised and emaciated corpse covered with what Gulino said were "classic whip marks."
Cuffie and Hadi rejected an offer from the District Attorney's Office to plead guilty to third-degree murder and serve 20-to-40-year state prison sentences.
In her opening statement, Assistant District Attorney Carolyn Naylor told Common Pleas Judge Barbara McDermott that both defendants should be convicted of first-degree murder. That would carry mandatory life sentences without parole.
"These defendants, who gave him life, also caused his death," said Naylor, who is trying the case with First Assistant District Attorney Edward McCann.
"Khalil's death was intentional and inevitable," she added, noting that his weight was normal during the first three years of his life, when he lived with a relative, but plummeted when he was returned to his parents.
Those last three years, she said, were filled with the defendants beating the boy, depriving him of food and home schooling him so no one could see his bruises.
Attorneys for the couple said their clients lacked malice and the intent to kill, making the child's death a lesser crime than murder. Michael Farrell, representing Cuffie, and Derrick Coker, representing Hadi, argued that Khalil's demise was partly due to his sickly nature.
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