Jury convicts man in fatal shooting of toddler

BROWNSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A Haywood County jury today convicted a man in the fatal shooting of his friend's 15-month-old son.

Jurors deliberated for about an hour yesterday and for about two more hours this morning before finding Torrie Perkins guilty of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. He was convicted in the Christmas night 2003 shooting of Jamarius Thompson.

Shortly after the jury retired to deliberate yesterday, Perkins and the boy's father, Harzel Tyus, stood clasping hands across a court railing and talking for several minutes.

Tyus says Perkins told him he was sorry about shooting Jamarius and that it had been a mistake. Tyus says he has known Perkins "since he was a baby" and says he's still a friend.

The family has asked that Perkins not be executed, so the sentence will be life in prison. The only decision is whether parole will be allowed Perkins.

The trial moved immediately into the sentencing phase.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)