A State Supreme Court jury in Buffalo has found Matthew Kuzdzal guilty of second-degree murder and predatory sexual assault in the death of 5-year-old Eain Brooks.
Closing arguments were conducted Friday morning in State Supreme Court in Buffalo. The jury deliberated for around five hours before reaching a verdict around 3:45 p.m.
Brooks was the son of Kuzdzal's then-live-in girlfriend, Nora Brooks. He was injured in an Albany Street apartment in September 15, 2013. Prosecutors said the boy was beaten inside the home, causing a severe head injury. He died two days later.
Kuzdzal, 27, initially claimed Brooks was injured in a fall down a flight of stops. He admitted during the trial that be became angry at the boy, slapped him, and shoved him toward the shower, causing a head injury. Kuzdzal also said he had used heroin that day.
His defense attorneys said that Kuzdzal did get frustrated and shoved Brooks, but they argued it was an accident. They said Kuzdzal did care about the 5-year old.
"All along, we thought that this was a manslaughter, not a murder. We weren't in a position to plea our client guilty as charged. So we decided to exercise his constitutional rights and proceed to trial," said defense attorney Robert Cutting.
But prosecutors argued that Kuzdzal showed he only cared about himself. They said Kuzdzal was a “drug user and drug dealer” and he lied, telling investigators multiple stories about what actually happened the night Eain died.
After the verdict, Eain Brooks's great grandmother Carolyn Spring was in tears. She said she was happy with the verdict.
"Eain has justice. Oh my God, thank you," she cried.
Kuzdzal faces a sentence of 50 years to life in prison. He will be sentenced October 28.