The jury deciding the case of the man accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend's baby will continue deliberating tomorrow after retiring for the night.

James Hemana is on trial in the High Court at Auckland for allegedly violently shaking six-month-old Cezar Taylor. He has pleaded not guilty but has admitted failing to provide the necessaries of life.

The jury of six men and six women began deliberating at 11.30am and were released for the night shortly after 7pm for dinner.

They were warned by Justice Mary Peters not to discuss the case with anyone at home.


The Crown says Hemana "gambled'' with a baby's life when he grabbed Cezar by the leg, shook him violently before dropping him head-first on to his bed.

In his closing on Monday, Crown prosecutor Phil Hamlin said Hemana called baby Cezar "Zombie Boy'' in July last year, shortly before the baby died of severe head injuries.

"My point is, he must have known something is wrong with the child to be calling it `Zombie Boy'. It also shows he does not have that much of a regard for the child.''

Hemana is alleged to have put Cezar in a baby walker before slapping him in the back of the head three times. Cezar's head flung forward and collided with the tray and toys on the walker, the court was told.

Three days later, Hemana was woken by Cezar crying and is alleged to have grabbed the baby by the front of his stretch-and-grow pyjamas and vigorously shook him in a "punching'' like motion.

The Crown says the following week, Hemana attacked the baby again.

"He grabbed the child's leg, pulled him up to shoulder height as he [Hemana] was standing. He [Hemana] was shaking him vigorously and dropped him.''

Hemana's lawyer Steve Bonnar said his client may be rough but he was not evil.


He said the defence case could be summed up in a text message Hemana sent to Cezar's mother, Victoria Taylor, after it was suggested he had punched the child in the head. It said: "I might be rough, but I'm not f****** evil like that.''

"He has been rough and he's caused Cezar's death and he's going to answer for it. He might be rough but he's not evil like that. He's guilty of manslaughter, he's not guilty of murder,'' Mr Bonnar said.

The key issue for the jury to decide was whether Hemana knew his actions were likely to cause injury or death and whether the six-second shaking incident was "calculated and planned'' as the Crown had suggested.

"The defence simply say to you that this is much much, much, much more consistent with a complete lack of thought.

"If he didn't even think about it, if he didn't even turn his mind to it, that's not murderous intent, that's manslaughter.''


January 21: Baby Cezar is born to 20-year-old Victoria Taylor.

May 21: Ms Taylor, her younger sister and James Hemana move in to a house in Mangere

July 2: Hemana alleged to have hit Cezar in the back of the head and the child's head
banged into a hard surface.

July 6: Hemana is alleged to have violently shaken baby Cezar..

July 13: Hemana alleged to have picked Cezar up by the leg and shaken baby Cezar before dropping him into his cot

July 23: Baby Cezar admitted to hospital with sever brain injuries

July 28: Baby Cezar dies 10 minutes after life support is turned off. The same day, police locate and arrest Hemana.