Summary of the Facts:
Was sentenced to death on December 1, 2005 for the beating death of her four-month-old son, Phoenix Jordan "Cody" Parrish, on December 15, 2004.
24 hours after Phoenix’s birth, DCF removed him from his mother’s custody and sent him to live with Edgar Parrish, Tierra’s father, who was also caring for her daughter. However, in October 2004, Gobble and her boyfriend Samuel David Hunter moved into Parrish’s house, where she once again had full access to her children.
On December 15, 2004, Gobble could not get Phoenix to go to sleep because he was “fussin.” At around 1:00 a.m. Gobble went to feed him. After he finished his bottle, she put him back in his crib. At around 9:00 a.m. Gobble checked on Phoenix and found him playing. Gobble went back to sleep and awoke at approximately 11:00 a.m. when she found Phoenix unresponsive. When later questioned why she did not call 911 immediately, she replied that she did not want to get in trouble for being with her child.
Dr. Jonas R. Salne, the emergency room physician who treated Phoenix testified at trial, “[Phoenix] had bruises, contusions, on his face, scalp, and chest. They were everywhere.” The x-rays showed that Phoenix had a skull fracture, fractures to both wrists, as well as a fracture to his right upper arm. Dr. Salne indicated that it takes “quite a bit of trauma and quite a bit of force” to fracture a skull. The autopsy report revealed that Phoenix also had fractures to several of his ribs. Dr. Salne further testified that Phoenix would have been in tremendous pain from any of the numerous injuries.
When undergoing questioning, Gobble told the police that she was Phoenix’s primary caretaker even though Parrish was his guardian. She explained the bruises and fractures on the child by admitting that she would occasionally get frustrated with him when he would not go to sleep and that she could have broken his ribs from holding him too tightly. Tierra further explained an instance when she was holding Phoenix and leaned down in the crib to get his blanket quickly. According to Tierra, this may have resulted in Phoenix’s head striking the side of the crib.
At trial, Tori Jordan testified that she had known Gobble for nearly two years and that Gobble had told her “if she couldn’t have her children, no one could.” Also presented to court was a letter that Gobble had written which stated, “It’s my fault that my son died but I didn’t mean for it to happen.”
The jury ultimately convicted Gobble of capital murder. The jury recommended, by a vote of ten to two, that Gobble be sentenced to death. The circuit court followed the jury’s recommendation and sentenced Gobble to death.