Man's Child Abuse Charge Upgraded to Murder


An Oklahoma City man charged with child abuse after his infant nephew was found unresponsive in April has now been charged with murder after the baby's death.

On April 1, police responded to a call about an unresponsive infant at the Quail Creek Apartments in northwest Oklahoma City. Emergency workers transported the baby to a local hospital, where medical providers determined that the newborn had injuries consistent with child abuse. Investigators determined that the child's uncle, Isaiah Dontae Cosby, was responsible for the care of the child at the time the infant sustained the injuries. Police arrested him on a complaint of child abuse. He was booked into the Oklahoma County Jail, where he was held on $10,000 bond.

On June 3, with his uncle still in custody of the Oklahoma County Jail, the 4-month-old infant died of his injuries. Medical examiners determined the cause of death to be homicide, and the charge against Cosby has now been upgraded to first degree murder. He is held without bond on the murder complaint.

Oklahoma law defines first degree murder (21 O.S. § 701.7) as an act of homicide occurring under one of several conditions:

  • committed with "malice aforethought"--premeditated murder
  • a death occurs during the commission of a specified felony
  • a death results from child abuse
  • a person solicits murder in furtherance of a drug crime
  • a person intentionally kills a law enforcement officer performing his or her duties.

Often, "first degree murder" conjures the idea of premeditated, intentional murder. This is typically the case in a first degree murder charge, but there are two specific instances in which a death is charged as murder even without the intent to kill: felony murder and child abuse murder.

Felony murder occurs when any death results from the commission of one of the following felonies:

murder of another person, shooting with intent to kill, intentional discharge of a firearm into a home or occupied building, forcible rape, armed robbery, kidnapping, escape from lawful custody, eluding an officer, first degree burglary, first degree arson, unlawful distributing or dispensing of controlled dangerous substances or synthetic controlled substances, trafficking in illegal drugs, or manufacturing or attempting to manufacture a controlled dangerous substance. If an unintentional death occurs in the commission of any other felony, it is charged as second degree murder.

Any act of child abuse is likewise charged as first degree murder if the child dies of injuries sustained in the abuse. Seldom is  death the intent of child abuse, but the act itself is so heinous that when an unintentional death occurs as the result of abuse injury to a child, the crime is charged as first degree murder.

In Oklahoma, first degree murder is punishable by life in prison or life without parole. In some circumstances, including those deemed to be "especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel," murder is punishable by death.

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