Trial begins for parents accused in death of 2-month-old

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

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The trail has begun for a couple accused in the death of their two-month-old son.

Dequisha Jackson, 19, and Isaiah Tolliver, 20, are charged with first-degree murder.

Both were arrested in October 2013 after Imauri Jackson died at their home in the 1500 block of Williams Street. The baby was determined to be extremely malnourished and police say the parents did not feel the need to seek medical treatment for him.

During opening statements, prosecuting attorney Katrina Carswell said the baby was 6 pounds, 6 ounces when born, he was not premature and did not have any medical problems. Carswell said the evidence shows the baby was emaciated. The prosecutor said that his parents didn't take care of him or give him food or water or seek medical care and that he died of starvation and dehydration.

Tolliver's defense attorney, Jerry Whitener, said that although the parents are being charged together they are not on the same side. He said there were many adults living in the house all with different levels of responsibility. Jackson's defense attorney, John Tat um II, asked the jury to listen to all the evidence before deciding the fate of Jackson.

Desmond Garcia was the first witness to take the stand. He is a paramedic with the Lufkin Fire Department. Garcia said the call came out as an infant possibly not breathing. Garcia said he went into the house and made contact with the patient. He said he saw the infant lying on the floor on his back and both the parents were in the room with the baby. Garcia said the baby was unclothed. He said the dad was pacing back and forth and seemed upset and the mother was sitting on the bed and was sobbing. He said the parents weren't by the baby or holding the baby or touching the baby and he found that unusual.

He said it was also surprising to him that there was a man lying on the couch appearing to take a nap when there was a dead child on the floor in the other room. He said the baby was blue and cold. He could see his ribs and his cheeks were sunken in. Garcia even described the baby as resembling a geriatric patient.

Garcia said that no one in the house appeared to have a sense of urgency. Garcia said he did see Jackson at the hospital but didn't know how she got there or when she got there.

Jared Hennigan, a detective with the Lufkin Police Department, was called as the second witness to testify for the prosecution. He said the mother traveled to the hospital in the ambulance. He said Tolliver seemed disinterested while he was at the home collecting evidence. Hennigan said the other people in the house at the time said they really didn't know anything about what was going on and also seemed not to care about what happened to the child.

Hennigan described some photographs taken as evidence that shows what the house looked like and the type of infant items that were related to the baby. Hennigan said he didn't see a supply of diapers anywhere.

There was a photograph of baby formula on top of the refrigerator. Hennigan brought in an evidence box that contained the baby formula from the house. One of the boxes was of cereal and Hennigan said the box was about three-quarters empty. The next can was a Gerber can of formula used for excessive crying, fussiness or colic. Hennigan said it was three-quarters full.

Another can of newborn formula had about 20 to 30 percent left in the can. Another box of Similac formula had about half the contents remaining. Then the final formula was about 25 percent used.

Hennigan said he found it unusual that there were so few dirty diapers in the house because infants use the bathroom a lot.

During cross examination, Hennigan stood by his original statement describing Tolliver as disinterested in the situation with his son and said he didn't really want to talk with officers or answer questions at the scene. Hennigan's also said he found everything that he expected to find in a house with a baby. He said the baby's things were clean.

Linda Bankhead was the third witness called by the prosecution. She said she let Tolliver and Jackson live with her until they were able to get employment and find their own place. She said that she saw both the baby's parents feeding the baby often.

During her testimony, Bankhead said she told Tolliver and Jackson to take the baby to the doctor because he was too small. Bankhead said Jackson took the baby to the clinic on Hill Street, but the doctors did not see the baby but set an appointment. Bankhead said she told the couple not to bathe the baby because he was too young. She added that she told them to wipe him with baby wipes instead.

Bankhead said she had raised five children and said she knew how to raise a baby. She said she didn't notice anything wrong with the baby other than his weight that concerned her.

Ronnie Harrison, the communications supervisor for the Lufkin Police Department took the stand for the prosecution.

The defense played the 911 call for the jury. The call was recorded at 10:09 a.m. on Oct. 11, 2013


A male is heard asking for an ambulance. He said the baby is not moving Then Bankhead gets on the phone and said the baby is not responding. She tells the dispatcher the baby is not moving. The dispatcher asks if the baby is awake and she said she didn't know. She describes him as just warm then transfers the phone to Tolliver. The dispatcher asked Tolliver if the baby was awake, and Tolliver said "Why are you asking that? We just said he was not responsive." The dispatcher told him to put the baby on his back on the floor and tells him to check in his mouth for vomit or any objects and to listen to see if he is breathing. Tolliver said he couldn't hear any breathing, and then the dispatcher starts to explain how to do mouth-to-mouth, and the phone disconnects.

Donna Bailey, who works for Dr. Perkawitz, took the stand and testified that she had no documents or evidence that the Imauri Jackson was a patient or ever had an appointment at Dr. Perkawitz's office.

Sharon Shaw, Director of the Angelina County and Cities Health District took the stand and testified that Jackson made an appointment for her son, Imauri, to come in on Oct. 14, 2013. Shaw confirmed Jackson asked that her WIC records be transferred and requested an appointment before the child died. Shaw said Jackson asked for her records to be transferred on Oct. 4, the records were received Oct. 9, the baby died Oct. 11 and Imauri's appointment was Oct. 14.

Dr. Melisa Handley, a pediatric physician with the Children's Clinic in Lufkin, testified for the state. Handley said she believed the Angelina Health District did not see patients under the age of six months.

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