Ecclesia Members Convicted of Manslaughter
OREGON CITY, Ore. (AP) _ Four members of the Ecclesia Athletic Association were convicted of first- degree manslaughter Friday in the beating death of an 8-year-old girl.
Prosecutors said Dayna Broussard, daughter of the group’s founder, was struck hundreds of times Oct. 13 as punishment for stealing food from another child’s plate.
The Clackamas County Circuit Court jury, after deliberating about 11 hours over two days, returned the guilty verdicts against Willie K. Chambers, 35, of San Diego; Brian K. Brinson, 31; Constance Z. Jackson, 38; and Frederick P. Doolittle, 28, all of Los Angeles.
The defendants were stoic as the jury was polled. Defense attorneys said they would appeal the verdict.
Circuit Judge John Lowe said he would order a presentence report before setting a sentencing date. Each of the four faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Witnesses testified that Chambers did most of the beating, while Doolittle and Brinson held the girl down. Jackson was accused of striking and biting the child.
Eldridge Broussard Jr. founded the group in the Watts area of Los Angeles to steer children away from drugs and crime and to motivate them through tough discipline and athletic training. Broussard, 35, was in Los Angeles at the time of his daughter’s death at a farmhouse about 30 miles southeast of Portland.
His daughter was beaten with an electrical cord, rubber hose, piece of plastic pipe, bamboo pole and weightlifting belt, witnesses testified.
Most of the 53 other children who were staying at the Sandy-area house were forced to watch the beating, prosecutors said. Several testified that Dayna was slammed against a wall, kicked, tripped, slapped, dropped on the floor, shoved, bitten, spit upon and hung out a window.
After Dayna’s body was delivered to a fire station, the other children, ranging in age from 1 1/2 months to 16 years, were taken into state custody. The children now are living in foster homes or with relatives.
The children were brought to Oregon last summer while the Los Angeles center was being renovated.
Broussard did not attend the trial, but his wife, whose name also is Dayna, attended parts of it.
Broussard has blamed negative news coverage for his daughter’s death. He denied that the children were beaten or abused, saying they were only ″spanked.″
Deputy District Attorney Alfred J. French III contended all four defendants acted in concert to beat the child.
Defense attorneys countered that the defendants did not know the child was in danger of dying during the discipline session and they questioned whether the girl died of the beating or of treatment she received in efforts to revive her.
They called to the witness stand Dr. William Brady, former state medical examiner, who said the act of hanging the child out a window was the ″precipitating″ cause of death.
The current medical examiner, Dr. Larry Lewman, testified for the prosecution that the girl died of blows to the head.