Jury convicts NJ mom of killing young son, burning body in oven
BRIDGETON — A South Jersey mom has been found guilty of murder and other charges for killing her 23-month-old son, burning his body, and leaving the remains in her backyard.
She faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole, according to the Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office.
Nakira Griner, 28, reported her son was missing to police around 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 8, 2019, claiming that she had been attacked and that someone had abducted her son, Daniel Griner Jr. A search effort unfolded with help from State Police bloodhounds and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
But before the sun rose the next morning, police had found the child's burnt remains in her yard around 3 a.m. An autopsy found that the child had been beaten to death, authorities said.
Griner had been offered a plea deal in October 2019. Prosecutors offered a 30-year prison sentence in exchange for pleading guilty to the murder charge. She declined and instead chose to go to trial.
In opening remarks, Griner's defense attorney said that the mother admitted to burning and dismembering her son's body but denied intentionally killing the child, according to NJ.com. It was also reported that expert testimony showed the toddler's skull had been broken into 74 pieces and that the body had been burnt in an oven.
The trial lasted two weeks. At the end of jury deliberation, Griner was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder, second-degree desecrating human remains, fourth-degree tampering with evidence, second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, and second-degree false public alarm.
Griner's sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 21. According to officials, Daniel Griner Jr.'s young age means that she faces a sentence of mandatory life imprisonment without parole.