Foster mother found guilty of cruelty to children - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Foster mother found guilty of cruelty to children

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A Ringgold foster mother was found guilty of cruelty to children on Thursday.

Clara Edwards was charged with murder in 2014 after 2-year-old Saharah Weatherspoon died in her care.

Edwards was facing two separate murder charges. She was acquitted of malice murder, but the jury was split, 10-2, on felony murder, forcing a mistrial on that one charge.

"We don't hear a lot about (mistrials) because most juries make up their minds," said Chattanooga attorney Stuart James.

James explained the jury deliberation process can be tough.

"Imagine total strangers sitting around, making a decision whether someone's gonna go to jail or not," he said. "Some are going feel strongly about it, some not so strongly, and then there are going to be those, every once in a while, that say, I just don't agree. And it only takes one."

Even though Edwards' jury was deadlocked, her felony murder charge won't just disappear. Prosecutors can choose to order a new trial.

"The DA gets to make the decision," James said. "Do we want to come back and retry this one charge? Or are they going to accept what the jury did and let that one charge go?"

An autopsy revealed Saharah died of serious brain injuries. The GBI ruled the child's death a homicide.

But a doctor, who testified for the defense, said the toddler's injuries could have happened after falling down stairs, which is what Edwards told police.

The toddler's biological mother previously told Channel 3 she suspected problems inside the foster home.

"I knew something is going on," she said. "My heart tells me something is going on there. I'm just hoping they're strong enough to tell the truth."

Edwards was transported to the Catoosa County Jail. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 25.

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