Woman sentenced to 85 years for stepson dehydration death

Crime

Woman sentenced to 85 years for stepson dehydration death

Posted: Updated:
FILE - This undated file booking photo provided by the Dallas County Sheriff Department shows Tina Marie Alberson, 44. Alberson, convicted of injury to a child, was sentenced Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 to 85 years in prison in the 2011 dehydration death of he FILE - This undated file booking photo provided by the Dallas County Sheriff Department shows Tina Marie Alberson, 44. Alberson, convicted of injury to a child, was sentenced Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 to 85 years in prison in the 2011 dehydration death of he

DALLAS (AP) — A Dallas woman whose 10-year-old stepson died after she denied him water, even as temperatures soared over 100 degrees, was sentenced Tuesday to 85 years in prison.

Tina Marie Alberson did not react as her sentence was announced. She was convicted last week of reckless injury to a child, a second-degree felony, in the July 2011 death of Jonathan James.

Jonathan's mother, Krista Bishop, and other relatives said they were pleased with the verdict.

"We got what we needed," Bishop told reporters outside the court.

Police had thought Jonathan's death was heat-related until the medical examiner's report indicated otherwise.

Alberson, who testified in her own defense, told jurors that she limited Jonathan's water intake a few times as punishment for misbehaving, and that she saw him drinking water when he wasn't in "time-out." She said she saw no sign that he was in medical distress.

The boy's twin brother, now 12, testified that Jonathan repeatedly asked for water and pretended to use the bathroom so that he could sneak a drink from the faucet before their stepmother ordered him out. Joseph James told jurors he was concerned for his brother's health but was too afraid of Alberson to do anything.

During the sentencing phase, the twins' maternal grandmother, Sue Shotwell, testified that they didn't like to go to Alberson's house and that Jonathan couldn't understand why he was always in trouble with his stepmother.

"There was a time he came home with a red mark around his neck and we asked him what happened and he said, 'Tina,'" Shotwell said Tuesday.

"We trusted you with our baby," she said in a statement to the court after the sentence was handed down. "If I could speak for Jonathan right now, I would know — you would know — that he still loves you."

Alberson is expected to be eligible for parole after serving one-quarter of her sentence, or a little more than 20 years, according to Debbie Denmon, spokeswoman for the Dallas County District Attorney's office. Alberson's attorney, Bill Fay, said he planned to appeal the conviction and sentence, but wouldn't say on what grounds.

"I can't comment about a case that's still pending," Fay said.

The boy's father, Michael Ray James, testified against Alberson because he said he wanted to see "that justice gets done." James, 43, will be tried for felony injury to a child next month.

Shotwell said she's forgiven Alberson but many members of the family, including Jonathan's mother, have not. She said they remember Jonathan as an active little boy who wanted to wake up before dawn so he could ride his bike.

"I had to remind him that everyone else was asleep but us, and that he had to be very quiet outside, which he couldn't do," Shotwell said.

While in jail, Denmon said, Alberson became friends with an inmate involved in a high-profile child injury case: Elizabeth Escalona, who was sentenced to 99 years in prison last year for gluing her toddler's hands to a wall and attacking her over potty training problems.

  • Email Alert Sign Up

    Sign up here to receive breaking news stories from KSWT.com and morning updates to your email inbox.

    * denotes required fields


    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.

KSWT-TV Affiliates

Go to KSWT-TV's Facebook page
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Yuma Shooting Victim Identified; Vigil Held

    Yuma Shooting Victim Identified; Vigil Held

    YUMA - Friends and family gathered outside Jimmie Dee's bar Sunday night to say goodbye to Frank Salazar, Jr. Yuma police are confirming the identification of the 28-year-old shooting victim, who diedMore >>
    YUMA - Friends and family gathered outside Jimmie Dee's bar Sunday night to say goodbye to Frank Salazar, Jr. Yuma police are confirming the identification of the 28-year-old shooting victim, who died outside the local bar early Friday morning.More >>
  • Coming soon...Wal-Mart

    Coming soon...Wal-Mart

    On Wednesday the Yuma City Council voted to change the zoning designation on the proposed land acquired by Wal-Mart. The property located near the intersection of Avenue B and 8th Street was the home of a mobile home park as zones for residential use; the new designation changes that to mixed which will allow the new store to move in to the property. The new store will be the fifth Wal-Mart for Yuma County.More >>
    On Wednesday the Yuma City Council voted to change the zoning designation on the proposed land acquired by Wal-Mart. The property located near the intersection of Avenue B and 8th Street was the home of a mobile home park as zones for residential use; the new designation changes that to mixed which will allow the new store to move in to the property. The new store will be the fifth Wal-Mart for Yuma County.More >>
  • Out with the old...

    Out with the old...

    It has been a staple in the Yuma community since the early 70's and the place to meet for the young and old alike. The Southgate Mall now sits on broken asphalt and bares the scares of more than 40 years; decades being passed from owner to owner and now it's set to be torn down to make way for a new more improved shopping center. Today the building has been stripped from within to make way for demolition equipment to tear down the center portion of the mall. Stores like Sear, Burlington and t...More >>
    It has been a staple in the Yuma community since the early 70's and the place to meet for the young and old alike. The Southgate Mall now sits on broken asphalt and bares the scares of more than 40 years; decades being passed from owner to owner and now it's set to be torn down to make way for a new more improved shopping center. Today the building has been stripped from within to make way for demolition equipment to tear down the center portion of the mall. Stores like Sear, Burlington and t...More >>
  • California firm issues nationwide fruit recall

    California firm issues nationwide fruit recall

    A Central California company has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of specific lots of its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots over concerns of possible listeria contamination.More >>
    A Central California company has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of specific lots of its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots over concerns of possible listeria contamination.More >>
  • Woman arrested to allegedly smuggling drugs into Calipatria State Prison

    Woman arrested to allegedly smuggling drugs into Calipatria State Prison

    CALIPATRIA, CA - A woman visiting an inmate at a local prison winds up behind bars herself for trying to smuggle in drugs. Calipatria State Prison officials say 25-year-old Veronica Delgado was visitingMore >>
    CALIPATRIA, CA - A woman visiting an inmate at a local prison winds up behind bars herself for trying to smuggle in drugs. Calipatria State Prison officials say 25-year-old Veronica Delgado was visiting an inmate in facility C yesterday, when an officer noticed something in her mouth. More >>
  • National

    Obama warns of delay in social sec. checks and veteran's benefits

    Obama warns of delay in social sec. checks and veteran's benefits

    Web Producer: Lucy Valencia, Assignment Desk Editor WASHINGTON (AP) -- Declaring "we are not a deadbeat nation," President Obama warned on Monday that Social Security checks and veterans' benefits willMore >>
    Declaring "we are not a deadbeat nation," President Obama warned on Monday that Social Security checks and veterans' benefits will be delayed if congressional Republicans fail to increase the government's borrowing authority in a looming showdown over the nation's debt and spending.More >>
  • Officials: Rebar spikes placed on forest roads

    Officials: Rebar spikes placed on forest roads

    Officials say someone is placing sharpened rebar spikes around Forest Service roads in Arizona.More >>
    Officials say someone is placing sharpened rebar spikes around Forest Service roads in Arizona.More >>
  • Website ranks Yuma # 1 for worst place in the U.S. for singles

    Website ranks Yuma # 1 for worst place in the U.S. for singles

    Yuma, AZ - People having trouble finding a date or significant other could blame the local economy according to one website. More >>