Jury issues guilty verdict in Hunter trial

PHOENIX (AP) -- A jury has reached a guilty verdict in the trial of an Arizona woman charged with murder in the 2011 disappearance of her 5-year-old daughter.
The verdict was read around 2:00 p.m.  Monday in Maricopa County Superior Court.
Jurors began deliberating on April 21, but started over because one was dismissed Monday due to a medical issue. An alternate replaced that juror.
Authorities suspect Jerice Hunter beat and kept her daughter Jhessye Shockley in a bedroom closet at the family's suburban Phoenix home depriving her of food and water until she died.
Hunter pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and child abuse.
Prosecutors say Hunter stuffed Jhessye's remains in a suitcase and put it in a trash bin.
Hunter's lawyers say there's no proof that Jhessye is dead.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery issued the following statement today on the State v. Jerice Hunter verdict: "We never forgot Jhessey and may the memory of her suffering and the end of a life that came all too soon motivate continuous changes to our child welfare system to protect the most innocent and defenseless among us."

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. Modified. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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