Testimony in the murder trial against Jerice Hunter continued Wednesday, sparking emotions to run wild in the courtroom.
Hunter, who is accused of murdering her then-5-year-old daughter Jhessye Shockley, broke down in court for the first time today during the afternoon break.
Hunter started crying loudly after speaking with her attorney during the intermission.
Today would have been Shockley’s 9th birthday.
Legal analyst Monica Lindstrom said the prosecution will have a tough time proving a murder with little evidence.
“It’s really hard to prove a murder case when there’s no body,” Lindstrom said in an interview with
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac and Gaydos. “It’s all circumstantial evidence. There’s no direct evidence like a video, or a bloody knife or an eyewitness who saw the murder itself, so it’s all circumstantial.”
The state is attempting to prove Jerice was a bad mother who neglected and abused her daughter, which led to her death, Lindstrom said.
One witness who took the stand for the prosecution Wednesday was Lisa Vance, Hunter’s first cousin who raised Shockley for the first four years of her life.
Shockley was in the custody of Vance before Hunter took her away when she came back from California, Lindstrom said.
“The story the prosecution is trying to show is that Jerice Hunter is a biological mother only to Jhessye,” Lindstrom said. “She didn’t love her. She didn’t take care of her the first four years of her life. She came back and took her from the only home that she knew and the loving people that she was around.”
Vance testified Shockley 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“Jhessye was very withdrawn, very quiet, almost afraid to speak in the presence of Jerice,” Vance said.
A second witness, a forensic photographer, showed the jury photos from Hunter’s apartment the day Shockley was reported missing. The photos showed a cluttered bedroom where Hunter’s four daughters slept and the closet where investigators believe Shockley was kept.
The trial is set to resume Thursday.
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