Foster Child Death Case Now in Hands of Jury

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UPDATE:

Wednesday the jury said it's still deliberating on the second charge of felony murder.

In a note to the judge this morning the jury said they have already decided a verdict on the two other charges, but are split ten to two on the felony murder charge. We don't know which way they're leaning.

Court will resume tomorrow at 9 a.m. and the jury will continue to deliberate.

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A jury in Catoosa County is now deciding the case of Clara Edwards, the foster mother charged with the murder of a young girl.

In 2013, Clara Edwards told police Saharah Weatherspoon fell down a wooden staircase the night she brought her to the hospital unconscious.

Prosecutors are charging her with felony murder as well as malice murder and cruelty to children.

Tuesday, one juror was wiping tears from her eyes during the prosecutions closing arguments.

Sharon Beasley says she and her husband are family friends with a few years ago she fostered several children who needed temporary homes.

"It's the emptiness syndrome children you raised your four children, and then my husband traveled quite a bit with his work. So I filled it with children. I love children," Beasley said.

That's why it's hard for her to imagine someone purposely hurting a foster child.

Witnesses from Saharah's day care testified that Clara Edwards often brought Saharah in with bruises as well as an explanation for how they happened.

"That's exactly what I would have done I would have documented incidents every time and I would have had it looked at by medical care," Beasley said.

Edwards' trial began on Tuesday, February 9th.

Doctors testified about Saharah's injuries when her Edwards brought her to the hospital on December 29, 2013.

One doctor said Saharah's injuries did not appear to be accidental.

On Wednesday, the jury heard accounts from daycare teachers who said Saharah never appeared to be happy to see Edwards at pick up time unlike other children going home with their parents.

Foster care workers took the stand Monday to say that Clara Edwards received extra training so she could qualify to provide care for the most traumatized children.

The director of the foster care agency said Saharah Weatherspoon was an especially fussy two-year-old and was slow in learning to walk, talk and eat.

She attributed that to the anxiety and emotional trauma resulting from domestic violence in the child's biological family.

One day after Clara Edwards took Saharah Weatherspoon to the hospital unconscious in 2013, Edwards was interviewed by the Catoosa County Sheriff's Department.

In a video of the interview, which was played in court Thursday, Edwards told officers, "I would never hurt that child."

She told police her relationship with her two-year-old foster child was growing before she died on New Years Day 2014.

"We are bonding to the point where I am important to her," Edwards told police. "I would never do anything to hurt her."

She then described Saharah as a "faller-downer," saying she'd once asked Saharah's doctor for a helmet to keep her from getting injured. She also said it was noted by another doctor that Sahara bruised easily, possibly because of her thin skin.

Tuesday as prosecutors wrapped up closing arguments, they made claims Saharah's death may have been a result of an understaffed, underfunded DFACS system.

The case as led to a larger investigation into a backlog of DFACs cases in Georgia:


Beasley says this kind of case may defer more people from getting involved in Georgia's foster care system.

"It's possible but you know what on the other hand and they may consider that maybe if I did it, maybe I would be a better [foster parent,]" she said.

This is a developing story. Depend on NewsChannel 9 to bring you an update on the case once the jury reaches a verdict.

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