Woman accused in John Baxley murder guilty on lesser charges

- After three days of weighing the evidence, a jury made a decision in the murder trial of Kara O'Connell, who was accused of beating her boyfriend's 3-year-old son to death.

The jury found her guilty of manslaughter and child abuse.

She was facing first degree murder. Some said they see the outcome as a victory for the defense.

Little John Taylor Baxley died of severe abuse five years ago. A jury believed Kara O'Connell had a hand in it.

She was dating the toddler's father, Justin Garwacki. He was also facing murder charges, but cut a deal with the state in exchange for testifying against O'Connell.

The Medical examiner said the manor of death was homicide, but couldn't determine what caused his death. The jury saw gruesome autopsy pictures of the little boy. He was covered in injuries and bruises, from head to toe.

O'Connell will be sentenced in March and faces up to 30 years in prison. She would have faced a mandatory sentence of life in prison if she was convicted of first degree murder.

The toddler's mother cried in the courtroom Thursday while the verdict was read.

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