Orlando Ricardo Dyer is serving a life sentence in the death of his 2-month-old daughter, Azyani.
According to court documents, Dyer was caring for his two children on Nov. 13, 2008 — for only the second time — while his wife was at work. His wife had checked on both children before leaving their home at 6:30 that morning and saw they were both sleeping peacefully. But by 11:30 that same morning, things were very different.
At that time, Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services arrived at Dyer’s apartment complex in response to a call from Dyer’s brother, who was also in the apartment, saying the baby was unresponsive.
Witnesses said Dyer seemed to show no emotion as emergency technicians tried to resuscitate the baby.
The baby was first taken to WellStar Cobb Hospital, then Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where she later was pronounced dead. While at the Cobb hospital, a nurse also observed Dyer showed “no emotion of what was going on with the baby,” according to the court summary.
Court documents say Dyer gave two different accounts of what happened to the baby, both claiming accidents. But the Cobb medical examiner’s office found her injuries were not consistent with an accident.
Tests by that office revealed the baby’s head had been struck.
Dyer’s attorney, David Smith, argued the medical examiner’s testimony, in which he said he believed the manner of the baby’s death was a “homicide,” was improper because the basis of his opinion involved facts the jury could evaluate for itself and therefore did not need an expert medical opinion.
However, the testimony “was not an improper invasion of the province of the jury on the determination of whether the child’s death resulted from an intentional killing or an accident,” the opinion says.
Dyer also claimed he received “ineffective assistance of counsel” from his trial attorney for failing repeatedly to object to “improper testimony involving irrelevant and prejudicial matter.”
Dyer was convicted of felony murder in the commission of aggravated battery, felony murder in the commission of cruelty to children in the first degree, and other crimes in January 2011.
In his appeal, Dyer argued the evidence was insufficient to prove his guilt.
But in Monday’s opinion, written by Presiding Justice Harris Hines of Marietta, the high court rejected Dyer’s arguments and found the evidence “authorized any rational trier of fact to find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crimes of which the jury did indeed find him guilty.”
The murder happened before Cobb District Attorney Vic Reynolds took office, but Reynolds said Monday he is pleased with the court’s opinion.
“The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s rulings and the jury’s verdict of guilty on felony murder,” Reynolds said. “Because of that, (Dyer) will now serve his life sentence.”