ATLANTA — The Georgia Supreme Court has upheld a Gwinnett County court’s guilty verdict and life prison sentence given to Houston Wesley Drake for the murder of his 11-month-old baby boy, Devon McCoy.According to the evidence, Drake had custody of his infant son, and the two lived with Drake’s girlfriend, Claire Garceau, Georgia Supreme Court spokeswoman Jane Hansen said in a news release.
At trial, she testified that nearly every day, Drake would cover Devon’s nose and mouth with his hand to stop the baby’s crying, at times rendering the infant unconscious, Hansen said.On Jan. 18, 2000, Garceau said Drake took the baby into the bathroom so she could talk on the phone, Hansen said. She said Garceau said she then heard a “thump or a thud or some kind of bump” from the bathroom. When Drake came out, he left the baby on his stomach on the bathroom floor, Hansen said. She said she noticed that unlike earlier that day, the infant was no longer eating or sitting up.The next morning, as Devon’s condition worsened, she said Drake refused to take the baby to the doctor, saying he feared he would be arrested “for child abuse or for beating him,” Hansen said. Later that evening, after Devon became completely unresponsive with irregular and shallow breathing, Drake finally sought medical help.
When hospital personnel called police, Drake gave police a false name and told doctors and police different stories, Hansen said. But the pediatric neurosurgeon who examined the baby testified his injuries had been caused by his head being shaken back and forth and then hit against a wall or sharp object, Hansen said.The medical examiner testified Devon died from blunt impacts to the head that resulted in trauma to the baby’s scalp, skull and brain, Hansen said.In February 2003, the jury found Drake guilty of felony murder, cruelty to children and giving a false name. It also found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a misdemeanor as the less serious offense of malice murder.Drake appealed the verdict to the state Supreme Court, but the appeal was denied on Monday by Chief Justice Carol Hunstein.