Jury deliberating in trial of 12-year-old Katy girl accused of murdering her dad

February 1, 2012 3:36:02 PM PST
A jury is deliberating the fate of a young girl accused of murdering her own father. It's a case that rocked the community of Katy three years ago and a verdict could come at any time.

The girl was just 12 years old when she shot her father, claiming she was the victim of years of abuse. Now it's up to a jury to decide if the shooting was justified.

The jury began deliberations around 1:30pm Wednesday. The defense began its closing arguments first thing Wednesday morning, wrapping up weeks of testimony, and telling the jury the teenager shot her father, 38-year-old Mark Nelson, in the head as he slept out of self-defense.

"She knew when he got up, there was going to be hell to pay and he had sexually abused her and physically abused her for six years," said defense attorney Windi Akins Pastorini.

According to the defense, Nelson had walked in on the girl as she took a bath in April of 2009.

"She had tried to cover herself. For the first time in her 12 years, she stood up to him and screamed at him to get out," said Pastorini.

The defense reminded the jury of three instances of abuse the girl allegedly suffered before Nelson's death -- one in which she had been choked hard enough to leave bruises, a second in which Nelson hit her arm with an iron bar, and a third incident in which Nelson had hit the girl hard enough the knock her down.

But the prosecution disputes the self-defense, telling the jury, "No parent, ladies and gentlemen, is perfect."

The prosecution also reminded the jury the girl had not made an outcry of abuse before the murder and had not made an outcry immediately after the murder. The prosecutor told jurors the girl thought Nelson was simply "too strict."

Jurors didn't show any emotion during the closing arguments. As deliberations began, neither side seemed sure which way they might decide.

"We just say a little prayer. That's all we can because this kid has been through a lot," Pastorini said.

The girl has been in the custody of her mother. The defense told us she has gotten good grades and has not been in any trouble since the shooting.

The deliberations have ended for the day and are scheduled to resume Thursday at 9am.

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