LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - An Angelina County grand jury indicted a young Lufkin couple on murder charges in connection to the death of a severely malnourished 2-month-old old infant boy who weighed only 5.6 pounds when he was born on Oct. 11.
The indictments list three possible felony charges - first-degree murder, manslaughter, or child endangerment. Katrina Carswell, a prosecuting attorney for Angelina County, said that the three charges will give jurors a wide range of choices when the couple's cases go to trial.
"Because we always want to maximize our efforts in prosecuting criminal behavior, it's not unusual to explore all our options based on the evidence and the legal significance of that evidence," Carswell said.
First-degree murder carries a punishment range of five to 99 years or life in prison. A person convicted of manslaughter, a second-degree felony, would face anywhere from two to 20 years in prison. Endangering a child, which is a state-jail felony, carries a punishment range of six months to two years.
Dequisha Jackson, 18, and Isaiah Tolliver, 19, were each indicted on a state-jail felony charge of child endangerment. Both of them are still being held in the Angelina County Jail. Each person'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.
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 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.
Also indicted were a Houston man and woman who were arrested in connection to a 3-year-old girl who was severely abused.
Elisiah "Big Boy" Phipps, 36, and Ashley Wingo, 25, were both indicted on felony injury to a child charges. The couple is still being held in the Angelina County Jail. Each person's bail was set at $50,000.
Phipps and Wingo were arrested back in October after someone called the Lufkin Police Department and made an outcry regarding possible child abuse.
Lt. David Young of the Lufkin Police Department said when police arrived at the 900 block of Picardy Lane, Phipps answered the door and said nobody else was home. Young said officers felt he was lying and were able to talk to letting him inside, where he led them to a bedroom closet, where the child and her mother, Ashley Wingo, 25, were hiding.
Young said it looked as though the injuries occurred over an unknown period of time; the girl had old and fresh injuries all over her body.
"There were injuries ranging from scars to fresh injuries, scabs on the buttocks where the flesh had actually been beaten away," Young said. " Her hands were so swollen she couldn't close her fists, marks on her hands, marks on her feet, marks on the bottom of her feet, marks all over the torso and buttocks."
According to the on-view narrative written in the arrest affidavit, the child had multiple injuries: "multiple streaks of broken skin with swelling on the child's back, bottom, and legs consistent with being hit with a switch or cord, multiple abrasions approximately 2 inches in diameter on the child's bottom with broken skin, swelling and bruising to the child's hands, swelling and bruising to the child's feet, abrasions to the child's hands, bruising and red marks to the child's back, and streaks of broken skin to the child's abdomen. Officers observed that some of the abrasions appeared to be infected and had decaying flesh."
According to the affidavit, Phipps told detectives he had been using belts, switches and shoes to discipline the child. He said he did it in response to bad behavior and "spanking" her six to 10 times a day. He said he knew she needed medical attention but continued to discipline her anyway.
Wingo told detectives she had seen Phipps strike the child with a belt on multiple occasions but she never reported Phipps to law enforcement nor would she seek help or medical attention for her daughter.
Another person on the grand jury indictment list was Carl Moss. The 58-year-Lufkin man was indicted for robbery in connection to an incident in which he allegedly tried to break into a truck parked outside a body shop and fought with two witnesses who tried to detain him.
According to the police report, the incident occurred at the A&B Body Shop located in the 1700 block of North Raguet Street in October. The report stated that the two witnesses suffered minor injuries during the scuffle to detain Moss until police arrived.
Because the witnesses suffered injuries during the attempted theft, the charge was upgraded to robbery. Moss was arrested at the scene and transported to the Angelina County Jail. His bail was set at $50,000.
Edwardo Morales, 48, of Lufkin, was indicted on a third-degree felony charge of robbery and a Class A misdemeanor charge of aggravated assault of a family member. His bail was set at $4,500.
According to the police report, the incident occurred at a residence in the 1200 block of Myrna Street in early October. Morales allegedly took $51 from his sister's wallet and then punched her when she attempted to get her money back.
Shelly Licea, 21, of Lufkin, was indicted on a felony child endangerment charge. She was arrested after Angelina County Sheriff's deputies found her 3-year-old child walking down the street in the vicinity of Bryce Road and Allen Gin Road back in July.