Crime - Sacto 911

Sacramento man convicted of murder in infant’s death, mother acquitted

A Sacramento man has been convicted in the 2013 death of an 11-week-old infant.

A Sacramento County jury on Tuesday found 27-year-old Damian Porter guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Graeson Byrd, as well as assault on a child resulting in death. Porter is to be sentenced Dec. 30 by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White.

A separate jury needed only hours on Nov. 21 to find the infant’s mother, Davonna Rae Byrd, not guilty of murder, involuntary manslaughter and assault charges in the child’s death. Byrd, who spent about a year in jail awaiting trial, has since been released from Sacramento County custody.

On April 8, 2013, Porter was home alone with Graeson from early in the morning until 911 was called later that afternoon. When medical personnel arrived at the apartment complex in the 2200 block of Ethan Avenue in Arden Arcade, Graeson was not breathing and did not have a heartbeat. The infant was pronounced dead when he arrived at a hospital a short time later.

Medical evidence showed that Graeson’s death was caused by a serious head injury and that he had sustained numerous other injuries inflicted over several weeks. They included rib, arm and leg fractures, prosecutors said.

Porter and Byrd were arrested in San Francisco in June 2014.

Byrd’s attorney, Jennifer Mouzis, speaking with The Sacramento Bee after Byrd’s acquittal, said jurors sent a message with their quick decision and criticized Sacramento County prosecutors for bringing the charges against her client.

“We don’t just convict women because they gave birth. The policy of Sacramento County is that they charge the mother – that she must know” what happened, Mouzis said, adding that Byrd initially thought her child died of sudden infant death syndrome. “But they say she’s supposed to know because a mother always knows.”

Mouzis argued at trial that Byrd left her child in Porter’s care while she was at work and that the injuries that ultimately killed the infant occurred when Byrd was at her job.

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith