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Jury Selects Lesser Charge In Shaking Death Of Baby

JOHN O’BRIEN The Post Standard

Floyd “Jeff” Humiston was acquitted Friday of murdering his girlfriend’s 15-month-old daughter by shaking her, but convicted of a less serious charge for failing to realize the danger of his actions.

A County Court jury deliberated about three hours before finding Humiston guilty of criminally negligent homicide for shaking Felicia Kyle to death Feb. 3. “Human life doesn’t mean a darn thing,” Richard Kyle, the victim’s grandfather, said just after the verdict. Humiston was found innocent of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

He faces a maximum sentence of 1 1/3 to four years in prison. If he’d been convicted of murder, he would have faced up to 25 years to life. The manslaughter charge carries a maximum sentence of five to 15 years in prison.

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 13. County Judge J. Kevin Mulroy allowed Humiston to remain free on $10,000 bail until sentencing.

“The poor little girl couldn’t defend herself, and he brutalized her,” Kyle said. “And now he gets away with it.”

Richard Kyle called himself the “ex-father” of Felicia Kyle’s mother, Linda Kyle. Linda Kyle corroborated Humiston’s claim that he didn’t know shaking the baby could hurt her. She is Humiston’s live-in girlfriend.

Linda Kyle conspired with Humiston to initially make up a phony story about how the girl was injured, she and Humiston have testified. They both admitted that the girl was killed after Humiston shook her eight to 10 times.

“She’s just as guilty,” Richard Kyle said. “Unfortunately, he had her mesmerized. He was the god. Just watch them walking around the courthouse. He leads her.”

Richard Kyle broke down when he talked about his granddaughter, whom he and his wife frequently baby-sat.

“We’ll never know how she would have come out,” he said.

Kyle said he has spoken to his daughter only once since his granddaughter’s death.

Humiston, 32, of 281 Norwood Ave., showed almost no reaction to the verdicts. Outside court, he told reporters that he hoped hospitals would produce literature for the public that would prevent the same kind of “nightmare from happening to someone else.”

Prosecutor Ralph Tortora told jurors Friday morning that Humiston was “going to teach this baby a lesson” Feb. 3 when he picked her up from her bed, where she was lying peacefully for her nap. Humiston was upset that the baby ruined the Sunday afternoon sledding trip for him and Linda Kyle by throwing tantrums, Tortura said.

“He shook her until she went limp in his hands, till her head fell to one side, till her eyes rolled back in her head,” Tortora said.

Tortora also pointed the finger at Linda Kyle, who was seated in the front row behind Humiston.

“This mother abandoned her child,” Tortora said.

Humiston then shot in, “This isn’t right!”

Tortora continued to tell the jury that Linda Kyle “sat back and watched that man shake her baby to death, then she agreed to conceal the truth.”

Humiston and Linda Kyle initially lied to doctors, nurses and police about how the baby’s injuries occurred, saying she fell off a couch. They said they were afraid people would “twist around” what really happened.

Humiston’s lawyer, George Hildebrandt, told jurors to look closely at the defendant.

“Ask yourselves if maybe there but for the grace of God go I or someone I know,” Hildebrandt said. “It’s easy to stand up here and call someone a child murderer.”