Mom gets 99 years for failing to protect 4-year-old

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NEW BOSTON, Texas: A mother who failed to protect her child from an abusive father received a 99-year prison sentence late Friday afternoon from a Bowie County jury.

Khadijah Wright, 26, was found guilty shortly after noon Friday of injury to a child by omission in the March 6, 2018, death of her 4-year-old son, D’Money Lewis. D’Money’s father, Benearl Lewis, is serving a life term for murder he received from a Bowie County jury last fall.

During testimony Wednesday and Thursday, the jury learned that Wright and Benearl Lewis had violated a Child Protective Services safety plan which forbid Benearl Lewis from being alone with the children or spending the night in the home where they slept. Witnesses testified that Wright routinely lied to child welfare workers and hid Benearl Lewis from view when they made visits to her home.

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In all, witnesses said agencies in three states opened 19 abuse/neglect investigations into Wright and Benearl Lewis beginning in August 2013 when D’Money was just four months old. At that time, he was hospitalized with a subdural hematoma, or bleeding brain due to head injury. While investigators in Texarkana, Ark., suspected Benearl Lewis was to blame, they couldn’t prove it because two others had access to him during the window during which he was injured.

At about 2:15 p.m. March 6, 2018, Wright left her job at Mayo Manufacturing in Texarkana without clocking out or explanation in the middle of her shift. A couple of hours later, she and Benearl Lewis pulled up to the scene of a traffic accident in Texarkana, Texas, and asked a patrolman for help with a child who wasn’t breathing.

D’Money was brain dead, multiple organs showed signs of traumatic injury and his body was covered in bruises and linear marks such as one might expect from strikes with a belt. Wright and Benearl Lewis claimed the child fell from a 34-inch freezer.

During closing remarks Friday, First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp theorized that after returning home, Wright helped Benearl Lewis develop an explanation for D’Money’s failing health. Instead of calling for paramedics, the couple stood the dying child on the freezer and let him fall, giving their false account some truth.

“She got back to her house and she knew that baby wasn’t right. She sat there and she waited for the last breath to leave his body and he turned cold. what kind of human being can watch a baby turn cold,” Crisp asked in her closing remarks.

Crisp and Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards argued that Wright knew the system and worked it. Instead of protecting her four children, Wright, they argued, protected Benearl Lewis.

Both prosecutors pointed to testimony from witnesses that Wright showed up to D’Money’s pre-burial viewing wearing a pair of plastic flip flops that are used immediately after a pedicure. Crisp described the foot rub, lotion, and massage chair Wright might have enjoyed shortly before walking into the room where D’Money rested lifeless in a coffin.

The prosecutors also reminded the jury that during an interview March 8, 2018, with Wake Village Police Chief Todd Aultman, Wright vowed she would never see Benearl Lewis again as she blamed him for the death of her son. On March 10, 2018, Wright was in the passenger seat as Benearl Lewis drove from the house on Redwater Road in Wake Village where D’Money suffered fatal injuries.

After Benearl Lewis was placed in cuffs and seated in the rear of a patrol car, Wright got permission to give him a kiss.

The jury rejected testimony from a psychiatrist called by Wright’s lawyer, Jasmine Crockett of Dallas, that Wright was an abused woman suffering from the effects of past trauma. A state expert, Psychologist Christine Reed of Dallas, testified that Wright was faking her symptoms and attempting to manipulate her findings.

Richards described Wright’s protestations of being an abused woman as “a show,” and wondered to the jury why anyone who has been physically abused would fail to protect their children from deadly abuse and then attempt to use such as a defense when charged in one of their deaths.

Wright will be eligible for parole after serving 30 years of her sentence.

“We can’t bring D’Money back,” Crisp said. “But we can give him some justice.”

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