Judge acquits mother accused of murdering infant

by: Carl Willis Updated:

ATLANTA —

Fulton County Superior Judge Kimberly Esmond-Adams made a rare move Monday and granted a directed verdict, acquitting Tatiana Lima without deliberation or a decision from the jury.

Lima was accused of murdering her infant daughter, Akira, who died from blunt force trauma to her head and injuries to her torso in August 2010.

Channel 2's Carl Willis was there when her supporters cheered outside of Fulton County Court.

"(I'm) still in shock," said Lima. "This has been two years going back and forth, court, preparing for trial, still trying to mourn my daughter. I feel like I can finally breathe."

Prosecutors said this was the wrong decision.

District Attorney Paul L. Howard, Jr. wrote in a statement: "While we understand the judge has the discretion to grant a directed verdict, we believe the matter of guilt or innocence in this case should have been decided by the Fulton County jury to whom the facts and evidence were presented."

The baby's father, Jeremy Copeland, is serving life for the infant’s death and testified that Lima was not responsible for injuries including a fractured skull and ribs.

Still, the district attorney believes Lima is also to blame.

"It is not uncommon in child murder cases for one party to step forward and claim total responsibility, but those admissions do not necessarily have any bearing on how the state should proceed with prosecution against the remaining defendant," wrote Howard.

Prosecutors said Lima failed to seek treatment for her daughter and chose to ignore obvious signs of distress.

"Although she stated to police in the days leading up to her death that the baby was extremely fussy and cried incessantly, Tatiana Lima sought no treatment for her ailing baby until the very end of her life," wrote Howard.

However, Lima's attorneys said their client took her daughter to the doctor five times in the girl's short 32 days of life.

"Every doctor she went to, none of them told her there was potential this child was being abused," said attorney Kevin Farmer with the Conflict Defender's Office.
 
"We won't allow an innocent young woman to be railroaded, and that's what you see the result of today," added co-counsel Mawuli Mel Davis.

Willis spoke directly with Lima and asked if there was more she could have done to save her child.

"As a mother, I did the best I could do at the time of what I knew what to do. I still mourn for my daughter... but no, I did all I could do,” Lima said.

Lima's attorneys said after two years in the justice system, she should be allowed to mourn in peace.

Lima, a graduate of Georgia State University, said she wants to dedicate her life and her story to helping others.

"I know that what I went through, I went through for a reason and so I can help other people," she said.