Crime & Courts
Jurors find Lakeland man guilty in infant daughter's death
A Lakeland man has been convicted of starving his infant daughter to death.
A Polk County jury deliberated for about three hours Wednesday before finding 30-year-old Chauncey Gardner guilty Wednesday of aggravated child abuse and a lesser charge of aggravated manslaughter of a child. He had been facing a first-degree murder charge. He faces up to 120 years in prison.
Gardner's five-month-old baby, Chauntasia, was found dead Nov. 1, 2009.
Gardner and the baby's mother, Tivasha Logan, told detectives that they were unaware that they had been feeding the baby an improper ratio of powdered formula to water.
During closing arguments, Assistant State Attorney Mark Levine described a “long,drawn-out process” that led to the baby's death.
“This wasn't something that happened overnight or happened quickly,” he said.
Levine said there was no excuse for Gardner and Logan not to protect and nurture their child. A nutrition assistance program ordered more than 300 bottles of ready-to-eat, high-calorie formula for the child, who had been born premature. No one ever picked up the bottles of formula, Levine said.
Austin Maslanik, an assistant public defender, argued that Gardener and Logan were young, immature and undereducated people in a dysfunctional relationship and that they were doing their best. Maslanik said Gardener wasn't even living with the mother and child and urged Logan to take the baby to the hospital when he saw how gaunt she was.
The Lakeland Ledger reports that Gardner has 10 children from six different women and helped take care of his children when he was able to do so and not in jail or prison.
Logan is serving a life sentence in prison after being found guilty of first-degree murder and aggravated manslaughter of a child.