• Judge gives life sentence to former Tulsa football player in child abuse murder trial

    By: Ashli Lincoln


    Story Highlights

    • Tavarreon Dickerson is accused of child abuse murder in the death of his six-week-old daughter in 2016.
    • Dickerson is a former University of Tulsa football player.
    • Defense attorneys say there is no evidence that Dickerson intentionally hurt the child.
    • The jury reached a guilty verdict on Friday.
    • The judge gave him life without parole on Monday 

    TULSA, Okla. - The jury reached a guilty verdict in the trial against a former University of Tulsa football player, with a judge honoring their suggested sentence of life with parole

    Tavarreon Dickerson was charged in 2016, accused of murdering his six-week-old daughter.

    The state said Dickerson intentionally harmed his newborn, while the defense said there is no evidence showing Dickerson meant to hurt the child.

    Dickerson is accused of child abuse murder in connection to the child's January 2016 death. 

    He was arrested in May of that year.

    While prosecutors claimed that the massive brain bleed and contusions are the result of abuse, defense attorneys said that the child was born premature and that the premature birth caused the brain bleed.

    Wednesday, the medical examiner took the stand and said no evidence showed that the baby could have died from a preexisting condition. She said she found bruises on the child's body, but she said the baby did not have any skull fractures or other indications of someone striking or dropping the child.

    Defense attorneys say Dickerson's wife remained married to him after the incident and doesn't believe that he intentionally killed their daughter.

    After eight hours of deliberation, the jury's guilty verdict came with a recommended sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole. Dickerson would have to serve 85 percent of his sentence before he is eligible.

    A judge upheld the jury's recommendation.

    FOX23 talked to a juror from the trial, who said that the moment of confirmation for them happened when they listened to audio recorded hours after the incident in which Dickerson described his daughter's symptoms to Department of Human Services investigators.

    The juror said Dickerson stated the same symptoms that the state's medical expert described as brain trauma during testimony. 

    He said the jury was initially split eight to three in favor of guilt, but that became 11 to one in favor of guilt by the final hour. 

    The juror said they asked if they could go with a lesser charge, because they all finally thought he was guilty, but some felt life was too stiff of a punishment. 

    He said they ultimately chose the life sentence, because Oklahoma law allows someone to be eligible for parole after serving 85% of the sentence, which would be 38 years.

    The state revealed during sentencing that Dickerson had previous run-ins with the law regarding assault allegations against his wife, his kids, and animals.

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