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Judges Reject Appeal By Newark Man Who Beat His Baby Daughter To Death

Travis Hartsfield of Newark received a life sentence in 2014.
Travis Hartsfield of Newark received a life sentence in 2014.

A panel of appellate judges Monday upheld the conviction of a Newark man sentenced to life in prison for fatally punching his 20-month-old daughter when the infant refused to eat. 

Travis Hartsfield was watching his daughter Asiyah on March 14, 2011, while the girl's mother was working a double shift. 

Hartsfield called the girl's mother, Darshelle Joseph, just after midnight and said the child was not breathing. Joseph told Harstfield to call 9-1-1. 

A medical exam revealed that the girl had been punched repeatedly and had suffered liver damage. Hartsfield was charged with murder and child endangerment. He later admitted he "kind of lost it" and hit the child, according to court documents.  

At his trial in 2014 Hartsfield's attorney sought a shorter sentence,  arguing that he did not intend to murder the girl, but the judge gave Hartsfield life. Under the No Early Release Act, Hartsfield, who was 28 at the time, was required to serve at least 64 years in prison. 

In his appeal, Hartsfield argued that the trial was "riddled with error" and that Hatrtsfield's attorney was denied the chance to conduct a "meaningful" cross-examination of an expert witness, among other points. 

The judges, however, rejected Hartsfield's arguments, writing that they are "bound to affirm a sentence, even if [we] would have arrived at a different result, as long as the trial court properly identifies and balances aggravating and mitigating factors that are supported by competent credible evidence in the record." 

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