Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Dad pleads guilty to death of 18-month-old daughter (Beaumont, Texas)

Dad is identified as SHAQUILLE LERON RAWLINS.


Beaumont father admits child injury
By Manuella Libardi Published 10:32 am, Monday, August 24, 2015

A Beaumont man accused in the death of his toddler daughter could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison at a hearing next month.

Shaquille Leron Rawlins, 22, pleaded guilty on Friday to one count of injury to a child in the 2013 death of his 18-month-old daughter Ja'Myra. Rawlins, who was indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury for murder, pleaded guilty to the lesser charge as part of a plea agreement with the state.

While Ja'Myra's autopsy showed she died from trauma to her head, prosecutors said they could not seek a murder conviction because the state could not prove Rawlins intended to kill the girl.

"As horrible as it is ... you have to work within the constraints of law," said Assistant District Attorney Ashley Molfino on Friday.

Rawlins, represented by Beaumont attorney Sean Villery-Samuel, faces between two and 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 at his Sept. 21 sentencing hearing.

According to a probable cause affidavit in the case, Rawlins was watching Ja'Myra on Sept. 12, 2013, when he said he accidentally dropped the toddler.

He told Beaumont police detectives that he threw Ja'Myra up in the air and failed to catch her. Rawlins said the toddler hit her head against the concrete floor and then stopped moving, the affidavit shows.

Ja'Myra's mother, who had been out running errands, called 911 when she returned home and found the girl unresponsive.

She was taken to a local hospital, but was later transferred via helicopter to Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, where she was pronounced dead two days later.

According to her autopsy, Ja'Myra died from a skull fracture that caused bleeding and bruising to both sides of her brain.

The pathologist with the Harris County Medical Examiner's Office who performed the girl's autopsy said he did not think the events Rawlins described could have caused the injuries, according to the affidavit.

Rawlins first told detectives, who observed the girl had injuries to her chest and back, that he did not know what happened to Ja'Myra.

He said he left her alone only briefly and then found her unconscious.

It was later that he told detectives he accidentally dropped the girl, the affidavit said.