Arkansas man pleads guilty, gets life term for stepson death


PINE BLUFF, Ark. (AP) – An Arkansas man avoided a death penalty and will spend
the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty to capital murder in the
beating death of his 11-year-old stepson, the prosecuting lawyer said.

Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Kyle Hunter said David Black, 38,
accepted the plea on Thursday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
Prosecutors had initially sought the death penalty.

He and Mary Black, 30, the mother of Joseph Carsello, were charged in June in
the boy’s death. Police found his body in a camper trailer in Star City, about
25 miles (40 kilometers) southeast of Pine Bluff.

Mary Black told police that she and David Black had whipped Joseph with belts
June 15 to discipline him for trying to run away, according to a 2019 probable
cause affidavit filed in Lincoln County Court. As the whipping took place,
Joseph talked back to his mother and the Blacks responded by striking him in the
face with their hands, the affidavit said.

Prosecutors say the couple also reported the boy had fallen and hit his head on
a toolbox.

The following day, Mary Black said Joseph returned from swimming at a
neighbor’s house, picked up a hammer and swung it at David Black. Mary Black
noted that she and her husband then “went a little crazy on him to teach him
not to swing a hammer.”

An autopsy revealed that Joseph died from multiple blunt force injuries that
included scalp bruises; multiple impact sites on his head and torso;
hemorrhaging of the pancreas; and a lacerated liver.

Hunter said Mary Black is still slated for a jury trial. It is scheduled for
July 9, court records show.

If convicted, she could face the death penalty. Only one woman has been put to
death in Arkansas in the modern era, state Department of Correction spokeswoman
Dina Tyler said in an August interview.

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