When Aida Shea Light kicked her feet and flailed her arms, it wasn’t enough to stop her father, Tony Light, from suffocating her 5-month-old, 13-pound body. And when her small hand lost its grip on his T-shirt, he could finally fall asleep.
In 2018, Light confessed to intentionally cutting off her airway to get her to stop crying. On Friday, Nov. 19, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
A Blount County jury found him guilty of first-degree murder during the perpetration of child abuse and of second-degree murder.
Over the course of a three-day murder trial last week, prosecutors gave a voice to Aida Light, who was killed on Feb. 23, 2011.
“It was an honor to speak on behalf of Aida Shea Light,” Assistant District Attorney Ryan Desmond said, “and she is a special, young, beautiful person that this office will never forget.”
Evidence supported that Tony Light was restless and on drugs, which contributed to a snap judgment that killed his daughter.
Aida’s mother and Tony’s ex-wife, Selena Light, testified, as did her mother, the doctor who did the autopsy, the lead detective and three other law enforcement agents.
Two videos were played: one from 2013 when Light told the detective he accidentally suffocated his 5-month, 21-day-old daughter, the other from 2018 when he said the suffocation was intentional.
Prosecutors said he kept changing his statements because the guilt of killing his daughter kept growing.
“I would thank the jury for being very thorough and meticulous,” Desmond said, “and their deliberations and the trial was carried out very professionally. All the rules were followed, and the criminal justice system did what it’s meant to do.”
Public Defender Mack Garner said in an interview with The Daily Times that he will spend the next few days studying law to see what steps to take next. He suspected they would file a motion for a new trial and said they would consult with Light to decide how to go forward.
Once someone is convicted of first-degree murder, they have three possible sentences: life in prison, life in prison without the possibility of parole or lethal injection.
Since Aida was younger than 12 years old and Tony was older than 18, the state was able to request that the jury sentence him to life without the possibility of parole.
The defense argued that 33-year-old Light deserved the possibility of parole since his confession warranted the murder charge and showed he felt guilt.
“Either way,” defense attorney Garner said, “he probably won’t get out.”
“(Aida) had a whole life ahead of her,” prosecutor Tracy Jenkins said.
During the closing arguments that sent the jurors to deliberate for 10 hours, both prosecution and defense used metaphors to summarize their cases.
Garner said he and his wife own a small, white poodle. He said that the kid who lives next door can be a “pest” and told him he threw rocks at the dog.
The attorney said he checked his poodle for bruises and his yard for rocks, but none were there.
Since evidence didn’t exist to support the claim the boy made, he said he told the boy’s guardian to not punish him since it appeared he had done nothing wrong.
In turn, prosecutor Desmond said that humans are selfish, especially when they’re young.
He said he was selfish until several years ago when he and his wife had their first child. Their two children’s lives were, and still are, in his and his wife’s hands, he added.
When his children cried, he learned what they needed and fixed it, he said. But Tony Light knew “another way to get a baby to stop crying.”