NEW BOSTON, Texas–A man who beat an 11-month-old boy to death last year was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Thursday at the end of a three-day jury trial in Bowie County.
Joshua Lowe, 29, was convicted by a Bowie County jury of capital murder in the death of Javontae Neeley. Because the state was not seeking the death penalty, Fifth District Judge Bill Miller imposed a sentence of life without parole, the only other punishment available for the offense under Texas law.
Lowe, 29, initially told hospital staff and investigators that little Javontae had choked on a hot dog but the boy’s injuries told a different story.
Bowie County Assistant District Attorney Katie Carter expressed gratitude for the jurors who served in Lowe’s trial.
“This jury saw through the lies and deception of Mr. Lowe by focusing on the medical evidence, which clearly did not support his version of the events,” Carter said.
Javontae was unresponsive when he was driven in a private vehicle to St.Michael’s Hospital on July 11, 2021, according to a probable cause affidavit. The child’s injuries did not fit with Lowe’s claim that the boy choked on a hot dog. In an interview with Texarkana, Texas, police, Lowe claimed he dropped Javontae on the floor because the child threw up on him.
A doctor at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock reported to investigators the day before Javontae died on July 13, 2021, that his injuries included “abusive head trauma, subdural hemorrhage, cerebral edema, retinal hemorrhages, healing rib fractures, five separate ribs, and bruising, facial scalp, ear, cheek, chest, back and extremity.”
The doctor suspected Javontae had been violently shaken, thrown and slammed onto a hard surface, causing a head injury. Other injuries, such as cracked ribs, were older and had allegedly been inflicted days before the injury that caused his death.
The baby’s mother, Christy Wedgeworth, 25, is charged with injury to a child by omission in Javontae’s death and injury to a child by omission involving injuries suffered by her 4-year-old daughter. She is set for trial in November.
Wedgeworth was allegedly aware that Lowe was being physically abusive toward Javontae and toward Javontae’s older sister but did not act to protect her children. She allegedly told investigators she had watched Lowe strike her baby while wearing boxing gloves.
Bowie County Assistant District Attorney Katie Carter prosecuted the case. Lowe is represented by Texarkana lawyer Butch Dunbar through court appointment.
Lowe has been in custody since his arrest last year. Wedgeworth is being held in the Bowie County jail with a bond set at $1 million.