Baby JJ jury deliberations resume today

By Kieran Campbell

JJ Lawrence. Photo / Supplied
JJ Lawrence. Photo / Supplied

A jury will resume deliberations this morning in the case of a man accused of murdering his 2-year-old stepson.

One year ago today, James Joseph Ruhe Lawrence, known as JJ, died "suddenly, unexpectedly and shockingly" from injuries to his liver and pancreas, the High Court in Auckland was told yesterday.

JJ's stepfather, Joel Loffley, 29, has pleaded not guilty to his murder.

Yesterday the jury retired just after 2pm after being directed Justice Patrick Keane to put aside personal feelings when deciding whether Loffley murdered JJ.

Justice Keane summed up the three-week trial by telling the jury to consider only the evidence when reaching a verdict.

The jury must decide if Loffley deliberately killed JJ with fatal force.

The Crown alleges Loffley murdered the toddler by delivering a violent act - "a punch, a kick, a stomp, or something of that nature," said Judge Keane in his summing up.

This happened while JJ's mother Josephine Lawrence was away from the house and the boy was in Loffley's sole care, according to the Crown.

Loffley has maintained his innocence.

He said JJ accidentally fell off the bed while in his care on November 14, but these were only minor injuries.

The defence said while Loffley was away from the house with his brother, someone entered JJ's bedroom and fatally injured the baby - most likely his mother.

The defence also pointed to Ms Lawrence's failure to show signs of grief after JJ's death.

Justice Keane directed the jury to not take any meaning from Loffley's decision to not give evidence in his defence.

"He's not bound to give evidence. That is a right that anyone accused of a crime has."

- APNZ

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