X box killer is sentenced to hard time

March 13, 2008 3:20:10 PM PDT
A man who killed his 17-month-old daughter in a rage over a broken Xbox was sentenced Thursday to more than two decades in prison. Tyrone Spellman, 27, of Philadelphia, killed Alayiah Turman with at least five blows to the head, prosecutors said. The force of the blows cracked the toddler's skull several times.

"I've been doing this 13 years, and this is one of the few cases that's ever left me at a loss for words," Assistant District Attorney James Berardinelli said. "There's never a good reason for this (murder), but this is just the pettiest of reasons."

A jury convicted Spellman of third-degree murder and child endangerment in January, and he was sentenced Thursday to the maximum 22½ to 45 years in prison.

Spellman expressed remorse for the girl's death at the hearing, but defense lawyer Bobby Hoof said afterward they would consider an appeal of the conviction.

Police believe the child's pregnant mother, Mia Turman, was napping when the child was killed. Spellman spent long hours each day playing video games, they said.

In a police statement the next day, he said he became enraged when the girl pulled down the game console and broke it. Hoof argued that the statement was coerced and that Spellman was trying to protect Mia Turman.

Alayiah was one of at least 20 children who died of abuse or neglect between 2003 and 2006 after coming to the attention of the city's Department of Human Services, according to an investigation by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

An autopsy showed that Alayiah had suffered a broken arm about two weeks before she died - an injury that city social workers did not see on two visits to the house.

The city took custody of the couple's second daughter, born after Alayiah's death.