Jaques Twinn
Jaques Twinn

The recorded voice of 2-year-old murder victim Jaques Omari Twinn filled Courtroom 10 on Monday during the penalty phase of his convicted killer's capital trial.

"Choo-choo train goes choo-choo! ... I be cool ... because I'm JaJa! ... I'm a big boy," the toddler repeated in a sing-song voice at the urging of Aric Shayne Woodard, the baby sitter found guilty last week of beating Jaques to death.

Woodard smiled as he listened to the recording from the witness stand. He had the recorded exchange on his cell phone, which he held up to a microphone in court for jurors to hear.

"I'm innocent," he then told the jury. "You didn't make me guilty -- you found me guilty. ... I sit in my cell every day and ask God, 'Why am I here?'"

Death imposed: But jurors weren't swayed.

Aric Shayne Woodard
Aric Shayne Woodard

It took them two hours to unanimously agree to sentence Woodard, 40, to death.That happened about 5:30 p.m. Monday, after 16 sheriff's deputies took their places around the courtroom.

Woodard did not visibly react, though several of his family members and friends gasped.

Presiding Common Pleas Judge Michael E. Bortner set sentencing for Nov. 21, but it is merely a formality.

First assistant district attorney Jennifer Russell said the jury did the right thing.

"Obviously we feel the jury returned the just verdict in this case, based on the evidence," she said.

Defense attorneys Dawn Cutaia and Joanne Floyd said all death-penalty convictions are automatically appealed to the state Supreme Court.


"It's mandatory," said Floyd, who admitted she was stunned the jury voted for death.

Cutaia said it was hard to overcome the prosecution's argument that Jaques' death amounted to torture.

Not for money: On the stand, Woodard told jurors "the full story was not presented because of legalities," and said if all he knew about the case was what he'd heard during trial, "I would have found me guilty."

Woodard told jurors he never took payment for watching Jaques and the boy's 1-year-old sister, Janiyah, because it was never about money.

"I miss Janiyah and Jaques so much ... I pretty much feel like dying," he said. "There was nothing better in my entire life than spending time with (them)."

'His' kids: Woodard repeatedly testified he considered the children his own, despite the fact that he and the children's mother, Hayley Twinn, were not romantically involved.

Woodard said he fed them, cared for them, and did what he could to "enrich" their lives.

The convicted murderer said he believes Jaques is "looking down" at him and saying, "Yeah, Daddy, get your chin up off your chest."

Woodard never said the words aloud from the witness stand, but insinuated he would rather receive the death penalty than life in prison. From the stand, he addressed Bortner directly, saying he knows the judge is aware of his preference for death.

Woodard also told jurors he holds no animosity toward them. He thanked them for apparently keeping him out of trouble.

"I was so angry at (lead Detective Al Clarkson) ... and his cohorts," Woodard said. "If you guys would've let me out the other day, I might've done something stupid."

The hearing: Prosecutors Russell and Duane Ramseur presented no testimony, instead relying on testimony from the trial's guilt phase to prove the two aggravating circumstances they say warrant the death penalty -- the victim's young age and that his beating death amounted to torture.

Cutaia called eight character witnesses on Woodard's behalf, including his mother, brother, other family members, an acquaintance he knows from church and a co-worker who worked with Woodard at a York City barbershop.

Cutaia confirmed it was initially difficult to get the family to agree.

"Lots of people want to testify on his behalf. ... (But) he has repeatedly said he does not want to put them through that, and it would be hard for him to listen to them saying good things about him," Cutaia said. "(Co-counsel) Joanne Floyd and I were able to convince them, even though Shayne didn't want them to."

'Kind, gentle': All eight character witnesses spoke about Woodard's way with children. All eight described Woodard as kind, loving and gentle.

"We used to call him the Pied Piper," his mother, Barbara Woodard, testified. "My son Shayne is one of the nicest, kindest people you will ever meet in your life."

Co-worker Bandele Ogundipe said he worked with Woodard for three or four years at the Basement Barbershop and that they became as close as brothers.

Still, he said, it made him jealous that kids only wanted Woodard to cut their hair.

"He always kept them happy," Ogundipe said.

James Woodard described his baby brother as "a gentle giant" who helped care for James Woodard's newborn son full-time because the baby's mother was bedridden.

Arguments: Russell argued to jurors that there was a different side to Shayne Woodard than his loved ones saw.

"He was taking out his frustration on that child," she said, and noted Jaques could have suffered for hours before eventually dying.

"How is that anything but cruel?" she asked.

Cutaia told jurors the prosecution didn't want the jury to see her client as "a complete person, a human being."

"Aric Shayne Woodard is more than just this terrible thing he did," she told jurors, warning them that if they impose the death penalty "you can never take it back."

She said her client is basically a good guy who deserves to live.

Cutaia also made sure jurors knew that in Pennsylvania, there is no possibility of parole for first-degree murder convictions.

Happy, friendly boy: Jaques was the son of Hayley Twinn of York and Tyrone Kemp of Baltimore.

His paternal grandmother, Brenda Dugan, described Jaques as a friendly, loving boy who was very protective of his little sister.

"He looked after Janiyah," she said, and would rush to intercede "if she was getting into something she shouldn't."

Jaques liked to sing and dance, often to theme songs of television shows such as Family Guy.

"He'd try to sing along right with them," Dugan said shortly after Woodard's arrest. "He was a beautiful little boy. I cry every day since we lost him. We all miss him so much."

Jaques liked to greet everyone he met, often repeating his greeting: "Hi! Hi! Hi," his grandmother recalled.

"That man ruined my life when he killed Jaques," Dugan said. "I loved that little guy so much."

The case: On Thursday, jurors found Woodard, of West Jackson Street, guilty of first-degree murder for fatally beat Jaques on Nov. 7, 2011, while baby-sitting the boy and his sister.

Clarkson has said Woodard, who goes by Shayne, left the children alone to go to a nearby store and that when he returned, he assaulted the child after realizing Jaques had smeared feces on the kitchen carpet.

Woodard had feelings for the children's mother, Hayley Twinn, but she did not reciprocate, Clarkson said.

"(Woodard) became frustrated that day," the detective has said. "He knew she was out with somebody else, and he realized she was using him to watch her kids while she was out with another guy."

-- Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.