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Tesslynn O'Cull

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Background

Early in 1997, Stella Kiser and her daughter, 2 and-a-half year-old O'Cull, began living with Jesse Caleb Compton in his apartment. Compton hosted "drug parties" at his apartment, some of which went on for several days. He prepared methamphetamine for smoking by melting it with a small propane torch. On at least one occasion, Compton held the lighted torch close to his hand to show his friends that he could withstand a great deal of pain.


Abuse and Murder

Soon after Kiser and Tesslynn moved in with Compton, he began abusing Tesslynn. He hit her on her buttocks and back with a wooden spoon, a spatula, and a belt. Visitors to the apartment witnessed Compton slap her in the face, drag her by her hair, force her to stand in the corner for long periods of time, and make her take long, cold baths or showers. He was frequently angry with Tesslynn, and called her disparaging names. Visitors also observed that Compton and Kiser usually kept Tesslynn in the bedroom during the drug parties, and they could hear the child cry for hours after Compton had been in the bedroom with her. He would not permit others to go into the bedroom to help her. Eventually, Compton and Kiser kept Tesslynn in the bedroom most of the time. When a neighbor complained about the way that defendant treated Tesslynn, defendant told him that he would kill the neighbor and the neighbor's girlfriend if they called the police.

Approximately two months before Tesslynn's death, Compton broke four vertebrae in her back. Sometime thereafter, he forcefully penetrated her vagina with an object and inflicted burns on the child's back, buttocks, and genitals using an open flame. Some of those burns became infected, and Compton poured rubbing alcohol into them. He also inflicted round burns on the child's legs. During the two-week period before Tesslynn died, Compton immobilized her 10 to 15 times by placing her hands and feet over her head and tying them together with ropes, cords, or strips of cloth. He left her tied up for eight to ten hours at a time. Within 24-hours preceding the child's death, defendant struck her in the head several times, causing bruising to her brain, and either punched her in the abdomen or stomped on her with his foot, causing severe internal injuries. He also scraped and bruised her abdomen with a fork.

Compton found Tesslynn dead in the bedroom of the apartment between midnight and 2:00 a.m. on June 14, 1997. Compton cut Tesslynn loose from her restraints and tried to revive her by giving her CPR. He also struck her in the left side of the chest a few times with his fist, then applied a frayed, live electrical cord to her chest, and splashed her with cold water. He was unable to revive her.

Compton and Kiser agreed to leave the body in the bedroom while they thought about what to do. Tesslynn's injuries were so extensive that Compton and Kiser feared that they would go to jail if anyone saw the body. Eventually, they decided to bury the body, which they did with the help of defendant's sister. In the days after they buried Tesslynn, Compton and Kiser were happy, playful, and affectionate with one another. They told friends that Tesslynn was with a babysitter or at the home of Kiser's aunt, and they were planning to move out of town. They also told friends that they wanted to have a baby boy.

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