- Associated Press - Saturday, June 28, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A jury has found a man guilty of killing his unborn child when he shot his then-wife, Kayla, four times in the back, leaving her paralyzed.

WAFB-TV reports (https://bit.ly/1llAQTN ) Frank Atkins, 28, was convicted of second-degree murder and attempted murder. He faces life in prison. Sentencing is set for Oct. 2 before state District Judge Trudy White.

Jurors deliberated only 40 minutes Friday before finding Atkins guilty.

Atkins shot his 26-year-old wife in June 2012 when she was almost six months pregnant. One month after the attack, their daughter was prematurely born as a result of complications from the shooting, and died an hour later.

Kayla Atkins, sitting in a wheelchair, was surrounded by family and friends moments after her now-ex-husband was convicted. “I feel good. Very good. I’m glad that it’s all over. I can sleep now. I’m glad that everything went well in court today,” she said.

Kayla Atkins testified Thursday that as her husband approached the vehicle she was in just before the shooting, he yelled out, “You think I’m gonna just let you leave me?”

Then, he started shooting, she told the jury.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1qE9SfE) Assistant District Attorney Louise Hines told the jury that Frank Atkins tried to strangle his wife three times two days before the shooting, and caused her to lose consciousness on the final attempt. He was arrested that day and booked into Parish Prison on a count of domestic abuse battery.

A temporary restraining order was issued June 18, 2012, requiring him to stay away from his wife, court records indicate. Atkins was released from jail the same day he received the restraining order. Hines said he had threatened to kill his wife if she did not post the bond for him - something she didn’t do.

Hines said Atkins called his wife on June 19, 2012, and asked her to bring his cellphone to his grandmother’s house. “He lured her there,” Hine said.

A surveillance video, which Hines played for the jury, shows him calmly walking toward the car just moments before the shooting. After several seconds, he calmly walks back into the house.

“He intended to kill Kayla. He ended up killing his daughter instead,” she said.

The couple had been having problems for some time.

“We need people in our community to help people that are in trouble. When they see that they are in harm’s way, they need to come in and help her out. That didn’t happen to her. That could have possibly saved her and her child’s life,” East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore said.

“There is no winner in this situation. Tragically a baby is lost, a lady is paralyzed, and a man’s going to jail for the rest of his life,” defense attorney Jarvis Antoine said.

Kayla Atkins delivered a message Friday to domestic violence victims.

“Get out of it before it gets worse,” she said.

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