Nacogdoches man pleads guilty to burning young son

Za'Taurean Pleasant
Za'Taurean Pleasant

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - For almost two years a Nacogdoches man has lived with the fact that he scalded his son, who was two years old at the time, with near-boiling water. Anthony Watts finally admitted his guilt today. Now he's asking a district judge, not a jury, to determine his punishment. He faces as much as life in prison.

Watts pleaded guilty to injury to a child, specifically his son, Za'Taurean Pleasant. Why and how it happened remain unclear to this day.

Back in March 2010, Watts was at his Eastwood Terrace apartment supposedly giving the 2 child a bath. It ended with the child burned over 80 percent of his body. Specialists in Houston and Galveston burn hospitals kept him alive.

Police testified it was at the hospital emergency room where they saw the baby's skin peel off onto the bed. One officer testified the baby wouldn't lay still and it appeared to him that the child was writhing in pain.

Witnesses say the child's mother became hysterical upon discovering the injuries. A CPS investigator described Watts as self-absorbed and more concerned about whether or not he was going to jail. In the end, Watts did go to jail and child protective authorities placed the child with a family friend.

Today, Watts' friends and families prayed over him in hopes that he receives a light punishment.

The judge is learning Watts changed his story up to four or five times as to how the baby received the burns. Watts claimed in a few versions with varying discrepancies that he tripped with boiling water which spilled on the child.

CPS investigators say burn specialists told them the wounds indicated that it was all but impossible that it was accidental.

Further confrontation by a police detective led to Watts changing his story several times more. The detective says the conversation ended with Watts admitting he poured the water directly on the child. Watts told the detective he did not do it out of frustration.

Defense attorney Edward McFarland pointed out Watts' mental limitations and questioned whether his client fully understood the seriousness of the charges against him.

Today the child is in preschool. A caregiver says scars are still visible, but he's ten times better than he was in March 2010.

The child was too tiny for skin grafts. By June he may receive his first surgery.

Watts faces five to 99 years or life in prison for injury to a child. The testimony will resume Wednesday morning.

Copyright 2011 KTRE. All rights reserved.