2 charged in Lufkin baby's death; doctor says infant was severely malnourished

Dequisha Jackson (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Dequisha Jackson (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Isaiah Tolliver (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Isaiah Tolliver (Source: Angelina County Jail)

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Lufkin Police officers arrested a young couple Wednesday and charged both people with injury to a child in connection to the death of a "malnourished" 2-month-old infant boy that weighed only 5.6 pounds when he died on Oct. 11.

Dequisha Jackson, 18, and Isaiah Tolliver, 19, both of Lufkin, are still being held in the Angelina County Jail. They were both charged with endangering a child, which is a state-jail felony. Each parent's bail was set at $25,000.

According to the arrest affidavit, an LPD officer was dispatched to 1500 Williams Street at approximately 10:14 a.m. about an unresponsive newborn child. It was reported that the child wasn't breathing.

The officer arrived on the scene at about the time EMS personnel were taking the infant, Imauri Jackson to Lufkin's Memorial Hospital. The child's mother went with them.

When the LPD officer talked to the resident of the home, she explained that she lives at the house with her two sons. She also said that she allowed Jackson, Tolliver, and their newborn to move into her home. She said that Jackson had nowhere else to go.

The home's resident told the officer that she was asleep in her bedroom when Jackson woke her up and said, "The baby is not breathing!" After going into the other room, the woman could tell that the baby was unresponsive and not moving, the affidavit stated.

The woman said she told the couple to call 911 and that the baby was warm to the touch. She also said that she didn't remember hearing the baby crying before Jackson woke her. According to the affidavit, the LPD officer noted that the temperature in the home was comfortable, in the mid to low 70s.

Tolliver was found in the home's front bedroom, according to the affidavit. He confirmed that he and Jackson were Imauri's parents and explained that he had gotten off work at 6 a.m. He lay down shortly after he arrived at the home on Williams Street.

The child's father said he and Jackson were awakened by the sound of Imauri crying. At that point, Jackson picked the baby up from a baby carrier located at the foot of the bed and was holding him when he stopped breathing, the affidavit stated.

Tolliver told the LPD officer that Imauri had been fine, other than an "odd sound in his breathing" that had been present since his birth.

When the officer talked to the home's resident again, she explained that she thought the child had some chest congestion and that the child was always crying and eating, the affidavit stated. Although the woman admitted to only holding Imauri a few times, she said he felt "very small."

The woman told the LPD officer that she had urged Jackson to take Imauri to the doctor. She also said that Jackson had told her that she was going to take the baby to the Angelina County and Cities Health District for his two-month checkup.

"[The woman] reported that she thought both parents were small and this was possibly why the child was small," the affidavit stated.

When the home's resident asked if Imauri was born prematurely, she was told no.

The child was pronounced dead at Lufkin's Memorial Hospital a short time later. Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Billy Ball ordered an autopsy be performed on the baby.

"[The woman stated that the 'child probably did need more nourishment," the affidavit stated. "{She} was not told the cause of death but made a connection on her own that undernourishment could have been the cause."

The arrest affidavit stated that another LPD officer was on hand at the hospital as doctors and nurses were treating the baby. According to the second LPD officer, Imauri "was very thin and gaunt, his ribs and other bones showing." The officer and the medical staff assumed Imauri was a premature baby, the affidavit stated.

When a hospital staff member asked Jackson how premature her baby was, she replied that she had carried him full term, 9 months and that he had weighed more than 6 pounds when he was born.

"As part of his treatment, Imauri was weighed by hospital staff and found to weigh in at 5.6 pounds, including various medical devices which were attached to him," the affidavit stated.

According to the affidavit, Dr. Melissa Handley, the attending physician, said, based on her observations, Imauri suffered from severe malnutrition. The doctor said the malnutrition could have contributed to the baby's death.

"Dr. Handley said that Imauri was observably malnourished to the point that a reasonable parent would have felt a need to bring Imauri to the doctor to try to gain treatment for the malnutrition or determine if there was a medical reason for the emaciation," the affidavit stated.

Two other LPD officers went to the Memorial ER to assist in the investigation. The investigation stated that they both noticed that Imauri's rib cage and sternum were clearly visible through his skin and that there were loose flaps of skin on the baby's stomach and under his chin, areas where there would normally be fat deposits on a child Imauri's age.

Handley told the LPD officers that Imauri's blood had been too degraded for medical staff to draw a blood sample.

The affidavit stated that both Jackson and Tolliver were interviewed separately about Imauri's overall general health. Other than "some rattling in his breathing," parents said they did not have any concerns about their child's health.

"Both Tolliver and Jackson advised that they had been responsible for the care and feeding of Imauri and neither expressed that they felt the need to seek medical treatment with regards to his malnourished state," the affidavit stated.

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