|Big Thicket Messenger - Local News
Stories Added - August 2009
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Life without parole given
Big Thicket Messenger - August 2009
Mario Lavell Cockerham, 27, of Houston, was convicted by a Liberty County jury of Capital Murder and sentenced to Life without parole in prison by 253rd District Court Judge Chap B. Cain III on April 17, 2009.
A jury was selected to hear the capital murder case against Cockerham in the 253rd District Court, the Honorable Chap B. Cain III, presiding, on April 17.
The evidence revealed that on or about March 23, 2007, Mario Lavell Cockerham, murdered Jenna Yvonne Ross, a six-month-old baby girl of Dayton, by suffocation.
The evidence also revealed that during the same criminal episode, Cockerham, who resided in Houston, was Jenna’s father, and was married to Renita Cockerham.
It was also revealed that during the same criminal episode, Cockerham gravely assaulted Alicia Yvonne Ross, Jenna’s mother, by stabbing her multiple times. Due to the injuries suffered by Alicia Yvonne Ross, her survival was questionable at the time.
Cockerham was arrested on the afternoon of March 23, 2007. A Liberty County grand jury indicted Cockerham for the capital murder of Jenna Yvonne Ross on May 2, 2007. During the investigation, the Dayton Police Department sought and received assistance from the Baytown Police Department crime scene investigators, the Texas Rangers and the Liberty County Sheriff’s Department of Public Safety’s laboratory analysis of the evidence collected revealed no physical evidence connecting Mario Lavell Cockerham to the crime.
Also during the investigation, Texas Ranger Frank Huff sought the assistance of Fort Bend County Deputy Sheriff Keith Pikett and his scent discriminating bloodhounds. During the trial, Pikett’s testimony revealed that Cockerham’s scent was detected by the bloodhounds on an item of clothing worn by Jenna Yvonne Ross at the time of her death. Additionally, the bloodhounds found Cockerham’s scent on a telephone and the contents of Alicia Ross’ wallet that had been recovered from the crime scene. Key testimony at the trial was also given by Alicia Yvonne Ross who identified Mario Lavell Cockerham as the perpetrator and painstakingly described to the jury the details of how the capital murder was committed.
Having begun their deliberations at approximately 2:00 p.m. on April 17, the jury deliberated approximately 90 minutes before unanimously convicting Cockerham of capital murder as charged. Thereafter, presiding Judge Chap B. Cain III, assessed an automatic Life sentence without parole against Cockerham.
District Attorney Mike Little stated, “We in the District Attorney’s Office are very grateful for the conviction of Capital Murder handed down by the jury in the case. The jury patiently and attentively listened to many days of testimony and then carefully considered all of the evidence and testimony prior to reaching their verdict. We are pleased that the jury recognized the severity of this horrible crime and acted accordingly. We are also very pleased with the sentenced handed down by Judge Cain. The sentence of Life without parole insures that Cockerham will spend the rest of his natural life in prison. Certainly, Ragis and Anne conducted an extremely thorough and very competent prosecution in this case. The people of Liberty County should be very proud to have attorneys of this caliber representing them in our district courts.
However, we in the District Attorney’s Office could not successfully try cases of this nature without excellent investigations such as the one in this case. Chief Pete Douzat and the Dayton Police Department did a tremendous job in not only conducting an excellent investigation and providing exemplary trial testimony, but also in remaining truly committed to bringing Mario Lavell Cockerham to justice throughout the entire criminal justice process.”