PHOENIX — After less than a month of testimony, the jury began deliberations Monday in the murder trial of Jhessye Shockley.
Jerice Hunter, the defendant in the trial and mother of Jhessye, has remained nearly emotionless while on trial for the murder of her daughter.
Hunter, a mother of four daughters, was not present for the first four years of Jhessye’s life while serving time for child abuse charges in California.
Lisa Vance, Hunter’s first cousin who raised Jhessye, was one of the witnesses who testified for the prosecution.
Vance testified Jhessye was a very outgoing little girl, until she got in the presence of her mother.
“Jhessye was very withdrawn, very quiet, almost afraid to speak in the presence of Jerice,” Vance said.
Police records show Jhessye’s siblings told investigators in the days after her disappearance that Hunter allegedly abused her and kept the girl in a closet.
Jhessye’s 17-year-old sister later revealed that she witnessed her mother’s abuse of Shockley, saying that she found her younger sister beaten up and describing the closet where she was locked up as smelling like death, Prosecutor Jeannette Gallagher said.
Although Jhessye’s body has never been found, investigators believe Hunter abused and neglected the girl, before disposing of her body in 2011.
Hunter faces life in prison if convicted.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.