Life in prison for man in infant's beating death

Posted: July 26, 2014

A North Philadelphia man was found guilty Thursday of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole in the 2009 beating death of his 11-month-old son.

Common Pleas Court Judge Sandy L.V. Byrd found Clavond Gallop, 45, guilty after a two-day nonjury trial and immediately sentenced him to the mandatory life term.

Byrd rejected Gallop's defense of diminished mental capacity, which would have lowered the verdict to third-degree murder.

Defense lawyer William L. Bowe argued that Gallop's decades of chronic alcoholism and drug use made it impossible for him to form the intent to kill his son, Joshua, on Nov. 21, 2009.

Gallop did not testify and said nothing before he was sentenced.

Police said Gallop called 911 at 6:40 a.m. Nov. 21 to report that his son was unconscious and that he had dropped the boy while holding him.

But Assistant Medical Examiner Gary Collins testified that Joshua died from being beaten and shaken. Collins said the boy had two skull fractures, three broken ribs, and bruises over 40 percent of his torso. Collins said the injuries showed that the infant had to have been struck at least 14 times.

Gallop, in his statement to homicide detectives, confessed to beating and shaking his son after a day and night of heavy drinking.

Despite expert testimony that Gallop's decision-making was destroyed by years of drug and alcohol abuse as well as several head injuries, Assistant District Attorney Gwenn Cujdik argued that it was a case of first-degree murder.

Cujdik cited the testimony of several witness who said Gallop doted on his daughter Danika, 3, but seemed to dislike his son.

Cujdik said Gallop beat his son and then did not call for help until the next morning, when it was too late.

Trial witnesses testified that Gallop was angry because the children's mother, Karen Brown, also a drug addict, had left the Edgley Street house two weeks earlier, leaving him to care for the children.

"This was a purposeful rage," Cujdik told the judge, "targeting a child he had no love for, his son, 11-month-old Joshua."


jslobodzian@phillynews.com

215-854-2985 @joeslobo

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