A Mesa man accused of drowning a 2-year-old boy in 2004 was found guilty Tuesday of first-degree murder and child abuse.
A jury in the case found that Derek Chappell, 25, took his ex-girlfriend’s son to the pool of a Mesa apartment complex and held the child’s head under water until he died.
"After drowning the young child, he ran back to his residence, took a shower and went to bed," said Mesa detective Tim Gaffney after Chappell’s arrest.
During the trial, prosecutors said the child’s death on March 11, 2004, was a result of jealousy. “This case is about a love triangle,” said prosecutor Patricia Stevens.
Chappell began dating the child’s mother, Krystal Shackleford, in September 2003, and they moved in together that December. Shackleford said she met Chappell in an English class at Mesa Community College.
"He was a nice guy, really sweet, really genuine," she said in 2004.
But the couple broke up, Shackleford said, after the first time Chappell tried to hurt her son, Devon.
"I have never believed in the death penalty until it was my son," she said after Devon’s death.
The date of Chappell’s sentencing has not yet been set. The jury will return Thursday morning to decide whether Chappell’s crime is punishable by death.