Joy Hodge guilty of murder
By Ed Runyan
A Trumbull County jury found Joy Hodge, 29, of Warren guilty of murder, felonious assault and child endangering in the death of her 15-month-old daughter, A’Nana Brantley.
The jury deliberated only 75 minutes Friday afternoon before rendering its verdict. Hodge could get life in prison when she is sentenced later.
The trial lasted all week in Judge W. Wyatt McKay’s courtroom.
In closing arguments Friday afternoon, Diane Barber, assistant County prosecutor, admitted the case against Hodge was circumstantial, but it “points to only one person, and it points to Joy Hodge.”
A’Nana Brantley was found dead in her crib in her family’s Trumbull Homes apartment on Transylvania Street Southeast at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 6, 2011. She died of blunt-force trauma to her head and body. She, Hodge and three siblings lived together in the apartment.
A’Nana had bruises on her head and abdomen and suffered a lacerated liver filled with “pulp,” which the Trumbull County coroner said resulted from a “forceful blow” similar to what a car-accident victim might suffer from hitting the dashboard
A friend of Hodge testified that Hodge and several other women had been together on and off Sept. 5, Labor Day, and had a Labor Day get-together.
About 12:30 a.m. Sept. 6, the women went out together to Blue Magoo’s, an East Market Street tavern, for a couple hours and returned home about 2:30 a.m.
At 10 the next morning, Hodge told a neighbor that she was on her way to the dentist. Hodge also testified that A’Nana was still alive at 8 a.m., when Hodge gave the girl a cup of juice.
But Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk, Trumbull County coroner, testified that A’Nana died sometime between 1:30 and 5:30 a.m. Sept. 6 based on the stiffness of her body when she was discovered.
In interviews, Hodge only described one other person being inside her apartment the night the girl died, but that woman later testified she had not been there, even though Hodge convinced her to lie to police and say she was.