Angelina Co. grand jury re-indicts Houston couple accused of severely abusing 3-year-old girl

Elisiah Phipps (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Elisiah Phipps (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Ashley Wingo (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Ashley Wingo (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Benito Acevedo (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Benito Acevedo (Source: Angelina County Jail)

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - An Angelina County grand jury has re-indicted a Houston couple who were arrested in October 2013 in connection to a 3-year-old girl who was severely abused and was transported to a Houston hospital for treatment of her injuries.

Elisiah "Big Boy" Phipps, 36, and Ashley Wingo, 26, 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 has now been indicted on six counts of injury to a child in connection to offenses that allegedly occurred during the period from Oct. 13 to Oct. 23, and according to the indictment, Phipps is accused of beating the 3-year-old girl with a wooden switch, a paint stirring stick, a belt, a shoe, and his hands. The first four offenses listed in the text of Phipps' indictment occurred in Harris County.

The couple's re-indictments were among the 35 indictments handed down by the Angelina County grand jury. Wingo has now been indicted on seven counts of injury to a child for offenses that allegedly occurred during the period from Oct. 11 to Oct. 23, 2013. Four of the offenses occurred in Harris County, according to the text of the indictment. The indictment said Wingo failed to stop Phipps from beating the child.

According to Article 13.075 of the Texas Criminal Code, an injury to a child offense may be prosecuted in the county in which an element of the offense was committed, in which the defendant is apprehended, in which the victim resides, or in which the defendant resides.

Licensed Family Therapist Debra Burton says the physical scars aren't going to be the worst problems for the girl.

"Just that complete feeling of utter helplessness and hopelessness is just fear. They never feel safe," Burton said.

While Phipps is accused of doing the abusing, Wingo is accused of standing by. Something Burton says happens a lot.

"There could be a dependency where they are like 'the only way I can make it is living with this guy.' So, they continue to desensitize to it and to continue to put up with it," Burton said.

She says the everlasting affects of the abuse can cause problems for the children once they reach adult age.

"What it does is affect their ability to attach. Attachement is based of off being with a safe person, being with someone you trust that's going to meet your needs and these children have not been in a safe place," Burton said.

Jury selection for both Phipps and Wingo is scheduled for May 19.

Phipps and Wingo were arrested back in October 2013 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."

Phipps told detectives he had been using belts, switches and shoes to discipline the child, the affidavit stated. 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.

Also among those indicted by the Angelina County grand jury was Benito Acevedo, who is accused of sexually assaulting a young girl multiple times.

Acevedo, 34, of Corrigan, was indicted for aggravated sexual assault and indecency with a child. He was arrested on June 1, 2012, and he was released later that day after he posted a collective bail amount of $100,000.

According to an arrest affidavit the victim made an outcry to her grandmother that she had been sexually assaulted by the suspect.

The affidavit reported separate alleged incidents when she claimed Acevedo inappropriately touched her.

In an interview conducted by a counselor at the Children's Alliance Center, a child advocacy group, the victim stated that when she was about 10 when the suspect touched her inappropriately. In the interview, the girl also stated that Acevedo forced her to perform sexual acts on him when she around the age of 5.

Acevedo was arrested June 1 and booked into the Angelina County Jail; he was released after he posted a $100,000 collective bond.

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