Jury selection underway for father accused in 4-year-old’s death

Advertisement

NEW BOSTON, Texas: Jury selection is underway at the Bowie County courtouse for a father accused of capital murder in the death of his 4-year-old son.

Benearl Jermane Lewis, 25, allegedly caused fatal injuries to his son, D’Money Lewis, at a residence in Wake Village, Texas, in March. Jury selection is expected to be completed today. Testimony is scheduled to begin Wednesday morning.

According to a probable cause affidavit, a Child Protective Services care plan in place at the time of the child’s death prohibited Benearl Lewis from being alone with D’Money or his older brother.

Advertisement

But D’Money’s mother, Khadijah Wright, 26, allegedly left the children in the sole care of Benearl Lewis when she went to work at around 7 a.m. March 6. Later that afternoon, Wright allegedly left work early without punching out after receiving a text from Benearl Lewis that there was an emergency with D’Money.

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 is set at $1 million. He is currently in Bowie County custody but will appear in street clothes during his trial.

Because the state is not seeking the death penalty, Benearl Lewis faces life without parole if found guilty of capital murder. The jury may have the option of finding Benearl Lewis guilty of felony murder or injury to a child if they don’t believe the evidence supports a capital murder conviction. Both of those offenses are punishable by five to 99 or life in prison.

Benearl Lewis is represented by Texarkana attorney Derric McFarland. Assistant District Attorneys Lauren Richards and Kelley Crisp are prosecuting the case.

Wright faces five to 99 years or life if convicted of injury to a child by omission. Fifth District Judge Bill Miller scheduled Wright’s case for trial Dec. 11. Wright is currently free on a $20,000 bond.

Advertisement