A New Jersey jury has found a mother guilty in the 2019 death and dismemberment of her 23-month-old child, according to the county prosecutor.
28-year-old Nakira M. Griner was charged with murder and several other offenses after she initially reported that Daniel Griner Jr. was abducted. The jury found her guilty of all counts after resuming deliberations Wednesday.
She will face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole when she is sentenced next month, prosecutors said.
Griner had claimed she was assaulted while walking to a store in Bridgeton with Daniel in his stroller and her infant child strapped to her chest on Feb. 8, 2019. She told police assailants knocked her to the ground and when she looked up, Daniel and the stroller were gone, authorities said.
That sparked a massive response from police as a search for the child began, but they found no evidence of an abduction.
Hours later, Griner told them the child fell down a flight of stairs in the family’s home and that she left the injured boy alive and alone in a stroller on a Bridgeton street in hopes someone would find and help him. She expressed concern that she would be blamed for his injuries, authorities said.
Soon after, police found Daniel’s burned and dismembered remains in the backyard of the family’s home.
While Griner’s defense attorney conceded to the jury that her client burned and dismembered Daniel’s body, the mother denied intentionally killing the child.
The prosecution presented evidence from forensic anthropologist Evan Bird, who studied Daniel’s remains and concluded that the boy suffered blows that fractured bones in his skull and body. Several fractures occurred at or around the time of death, Bird testified.
Asked if fractures to the cranium could have resulted from an accident, he responded that some of the fractures signified force that would exceed that caused by an accidental blow to the head.
Bird also found that some of the fractures were the type typically viewed as red flags for injuries inflicted by others.
The defense argued that there was no way of being certain if the broken bones occurred before his death or as a result of heat from the child’s body being burned in an oven.
Wednesday’s verdict came after a two-week jury trial before Superior Court Judge George Gangloff.
In addition to first-degree murder, Griner was found guilty of disturbing or desecrating human remains, tampering with evidence, endangering the welfare of a child and false public alarm.
The jury also found the victim’s age was an “aggravating factor” in the case. That means Griner will be required to face a mandatory life sentence without parole, prosecutors said.
Griner’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 21.