Shelby County jury terminates parental rights of couple who locked boy in dog crate

Shelby County jury terminates parental rights of couple who locked boy in dog crate
Matthew McMahon (Source: Shelby County Jail)
Matthew McMahon (Source: Shelby County Jail)
Randa McMahon (Source: Shelby County Jail)
Randa McMahon (Source: Shelby County Jail)

A Shelby County jury voted unanimously to terminate the parental rights of a couple who were accused of whipping a 4-year-old boy, making him drink his own urine, and locking him in a dog crate Wednesday.

The court proceedings were held in the 273rd Judicial District Court with Judge Charles Mitchell presiding, according to the Shelby County Today website. Shelby County District Attorney Stephen Shires confirmed that Matthew and Randa's parental rights were taken away.

Managing conservatorship of the now-5-year-old boy was given to Regina Raymond, the child's maternal grandmother, Shires said.

County Attorney Gary Rholes was the prosecutor on the case, and Linda K. Russell was the ad litem attorney. Leigh Roberts of the Roberts Law Office represented Raymond, the "intervener" in the case, Shires said.

The Shelby County Today story stated that the jury made its decision after six days of testimony by family members, friends, and expert witnesses. The story also said that it took the jury less than an hour to make its decision.

For the full text of the Shelby County Today story, click here.

Matthew and Randa McMahon were arrested in Somerville County on June 2, 2017, and they were transferred to the Shelby County Jail on June 12 of that year, according to arrest records. A grand jury indicted each of them for first-degree felony injury to a child.

The texts of the couple's indictments state that their actions caused the boy's potassium, protein, and albumin numbers to fall to very low levels. They also state that his potassium dropped to a dangerous, life-threatening level because of the "chronic nutritional deficiency."

East Texas News obtained the arrest affidavits for the couple on June 15, 2018.

One of the affidavits details more allegations of abuse, stating Randa McMahon, who is the child's stepmother, would also deprive the child of water and make him drink his own urine.

Witnesses say Randa McMahon did this as a way to punish the boy for going to the bathroom on himself and for not eating his meals.

The affidavit states the investigation began on May 29, when an investigator checked into a report of the boy being kept inside a dog kennel and locked inside a closet as a means of discipline.

Investigators tried to see the child, but they learned he and his step-mother were in North Carolina. They then decided to interview Randa McMahon's other three children, two adult women and a teen-aged boy.

The investigator interviewed the teen-aged boy, who lived with the family between November 2016 and March 2017. He said his mother would force the boy to sleep in a large dog kennel because he would go to the bathroom on himself.

The teenager said the boy was also forced to be in an enclosed cargo trailer, and on one occasion, was in there with no food or drink for up to 24 hours. He said the boy was taken out of the trailer for lunch, but he would not eat lunch, so he was then put back in the trailer until the next morning.

He said the boy was deprived of water for long periods of time, sometimes up to several days. He also said the boy was whipped with a stick until his bottom bled. The teenager also said the boy was once forced to drink his own urine as punishment for urinating on himself. He said his step-father was supportive of his wife's treatment of the boy.

Investigators interviewed one of the adult daughters on June 1 and reported she had a positive relationship with her mother and confirmed many of the allegations the teenager made, but justified them, saying "this was OK because children could safely go for several days without water."

The adult daughter also claimed the boy would break into the refrigerator at night to get something to drink. She said the boy refuses to eat food often, so her mother withholds liquid from him over a "very long period of time," only giving him an ounce or so of water over that time.

The second adult daughter also has a positive relationship with her mother and said the boy "has a problem with not wanting to eat" and did not get water as punishment for not eating, according to the affidavit. She said the boy was "a terrible child, was jealous, and was driving her" and her sister away from her mother.

The second adult daughter also said the boy was beyond spoiled by his grandparents, according to the affidavit. However, investigators learned the boy rarely, if ever, got to see his grandparents.

The affidavit concludes that investigators determined Matthew McMahon was aware and supported his wife's actions and is just as criminally liable.

Shari M. Pulliam, a spokeswoman for Child Protective Services, said CPS took custody of the boy after the couple was arrested.

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