Father pleads not guilty in 4-year-old’s death

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A 24-year-old Wake Village, Texas, man pleaded not guilty Monday to capital murder in the death of his 4-year-old son.

Benearl Lewis appeared before 5th District Judge Bill Miller for arraignment with Bowie County Public Defender Sylvia Delgado on Monday morning. Delgado entered a not guilty plea on Benearl Lewis’ behalf to capital murder, felony murder and injury to a child. Benearl Lewis’ indictment charges him with all three offenses in the March 8 death of D’Money Lewis.

D’Money’s mother, Khadijah Wright, 25, is facing a charge of injury to a child in the case. Her defense attorney, Jasmine Crockett of Texarkana, was not in court Monday so Miller rescheduled her case for arraignment June 25. Both Benearl Lewis and Wright are being held in the Bowie County jail.

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Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards said Monday that her office received the investigative file from Wake Village police last week. Richards said some information contained in Child Protective Services records concerning D’Money and his older brother must be redacted before copies of the information is handed over to the defense. Richards said she is still waiting for a final report from the medical examiner detailing the results of D’Money’s autopsy.

Miller scheduled both cases for trial in November.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Benearl Lewis was prohibited as part of a Child Protective Services care plan from being alone with D’Money or his 6-year-old brother but Wright left the children in his care anyway when she went to work at 7 a.m. March 6. Wright allegedly left work around 2 p.m. that day without clocking out after receiving a text from Benearl Lewis alerting her to an emergency at the family’s home in Wake Village, Texas.

At approximately 4:15 p.m., the couple stopped at a traffic accident being worked by Texarkana, Texas, police at 7th Street and Bishop Lane. The couple reported to officers that they had a child in the car who was unresponsive and not breathing.

“TTPD Officer Bent Hobbs reported to me that when he got to the child to feel for a pulse, the child was cold to the touch,” states the affidavit signed by Wake Village Detective Todd Aultman. “D’Money was transported to Wadley Regional Medical Center in cardiac arrest by LifeNet EMS.”

Aultman photographed the boy’s body at Wadley before he was airlifted to Arkansas Children’s Medical Center.

“There was a large area on his back that was beginning to bruise and several ‘strap’ marks on his legs and back. I was told by medical staff that D’Money was suffering from a right subdural hematoma (bleeding of the brain), bruising to the back and chest ‘as if he had been kicked,’” the affidavit states. “D’Money’s pupils were fixed and dilated, was not responding to stimulus, but he did have a pulse.”

Staff at Children’s Hospital allegedly told Aultman that the boy’s injuries were consistent with “brain death” but inconsistent with the scenario provided by his parents as to how he became injured. Benearl Lewis and Wright allegedly told investigators they were both home when D’Money “jumped or fell from a deep freezer and that his eyes rolled back in his head,” the affidavit states.

Investigators do not believe Wright was home when the boy was injured but believe she left the children in Benearl Lewis’ sole care despite the CPS plan forbidding it, according to the affidavit.

D’Money died of his injuries March 8 and was autopsied the following day. D’Money suffered blunt force trauma to his head and body which caused a “space occupying subdural hematoma that had caused the brain to herniate down the spine,” the affidavit states.

Bail for Benearl Lewis and Wright is set at $1 million. Capital murder is punishable by life in prison without parole or by lethal injection. Wright faces five to 99 years or life if convicted of injury to a child.

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