Valerie Owusu, left, and Emmanuel Addae, were found guilty of...

Valerie Owusu, left, and Emmanuel Addae, were found guilty of murder in the death of Owusu's 5-year-old son, King Owusu, who died in 2022 while staying with his grandmother in Brentwood.  Credit: John Roca

A Suffolk County jury Friday found a Queens mother and her boyfriend guilty in the second-degree depraved indifference murder of her 5-year-old son in the spring of 2021.

The jury of seven women and five men deliberated for less than one day in Supreme Court in Riverhead before finding that Valerie Owusu and Emmanuel Addae, both 28, of Corona, Queens, were criminally responsible for the death of King Owusu.

Prosecutors said the child was “severely beaten” with five objects and the couple made no effort to seek medical help.

Owusu and Addae said nothing as the verdict was read and stared straight ahead, showing little emotion.

Prosecutors contend Owusu and Addae drove King 38 miles to Addae’s parents’ apartment in Brentwood rather than taking him for medical assistance in the days after they beat him inside their LeFrak City apartment. The couple then returned to Queens and took the daughter they share shopping at a Queens mall, officials said.

The child, who was 3 feet, 6 inches tall, weighed 49 pounds and had no medical records from the seven months he lived with the couple, was pronounced dead hours after arriving in Suffolk on April 1, 2021. King previously lived in Ghana, where his father lives.

Acting state Supreme Court Justice Steven Pilewski is expected to sentence the pair on May 1. The defendants each face up to 25 years to life in prison.

Addae's lawyer, Raymond Baierlein, of Bay Shore, said the jury could not look past the emotional components of the case.

“It's evident that the jury was swayed by emotion,” Baierlein said after the verdict. “If you look very closely at this, and you apply the law, they might have come to a different conclusion. But the emotion was very strong, given the age and nature of the victim. It was a tough one for the jury.”

Owusu’s attorney, Rene Myatt, of Queens, agreed and said she was “completely devastated by the verdict. The family is completely devastated. They're very overwhelmed.”

Suffolk Medical Examiner Odette Hall testified during the three-week trial that King’s cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head, torso and extremities. She told the jury an autopsy revealed King suffered internal bleeding, tissue injuries, lung and brain damage and more than 100 cuts and bruises.

Suffolk detectives located a belt buckle and broken sticks inside the family’s apartment during a pair of searches after the boy’s death, according to testimony at trial.

Assistant District Attorney Elena Tomaro said the boy was whipped with the belt and beaten with the sticks “from head to toe.” 

“He looked to his mother for help, and they watched him slowly die,” Tomaro said during closing arguments Thursday. “Not because they intended for him to die, but simply because they didn’t care if he died.”

Owusu and Addae, who were indicted by a grand jury in April 2022, initially told a Suffolk detective that the boy had been injured at the hands of his father in Ghana weeks earlier.

The defense attorneys also accused investigators of failing to properly secure evidence and blamed the medical examiner for not thoroughly examining each of King’s wounds, including some that may have existed before the period when investigators allege the beating occurred.

During the trial, Taylor Lord, a self-described agoraphobic, testified of loud noises, including a boy crying, on March 30, 2021, coming from inside the couple's eighth-floor apartment, which shares a wall with her unit.  Lord told the jury she had not left her apartment in seven years before testifying in Riverhead.

“Those hollers, the whipping, the banging … a man and a woman, a boy crying,” Tomaro said. “She heard what was happening to him.”

A LeFrak City surveillance video played at trial showed no one other than Owusu or Addae entering or leaving the apartment between the time of the alleged beating and when the family left for Brentwood.

Additional footage from the hallway showed Addae strike King in the face as he carried him out of the apartment, the boy’s arms dangling over his stepfather’s right shoulder as he barely moves following the blow.

 On Friday, the jury asked to review close-up still frame images of King being carried limp out of the apartment and for the legal definition of second-degree depraved indifference murder. 

With Grant Parpan

A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

'Why am I giving up my Friday night to listen to this?' A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.

A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

'Why am I giving up my Friday night to listen to this?' A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.

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