A Dallas teen was sentenced to 40 years in prison for drowning a baby in January. The teenager admitted “true” to the crime in juvenile court. The 2-month old baby, Justice Hull, was found dead by police who responded to the teen’s 911 call.
The teen’s mom received custody of the baby from Child Protective Services because the baby’s mother is a drug addict. However, the teen, whose identity remains protected due to her age, planned the baby’s death out of frustration over taking care of the baby girl.
Asking for leniency, the teen’s mom hoped the judge would give a lighter sentence to the 15-year-old.
“I just wish that this had never occurred. I just want her home.”
On Friday, after the teen pleaded “true” in juvenile court to the charge of capital murder, Judge Cheryl Shannon ruled the sentence of 40 years. In juvenile court, this sentence could have ranged from probation to 40 years. The teen received the maximum sentence for drowning the baby.
The 15-year-old will begin serving her maximum punishment sentence through the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. A judge will decide her eligibility for parole or transfer into the adult prison system once the teen turns 19-years-old.
Prosecutors failed to certify the teen to stand trial as an adult, which would have made a life sentence possible. After entering her plea in juvenile court, prosecutors asked for the maximum sentence.
“This is such a serious, horrific crime,” said prosecutor Rita Yeakley. “The state would ask for the max. The state would ask for justice for the baby whose named Justice.”
In the weeks before the murder, the teen’s mom had requested assistance for the baby’s childcare. The request was denied and led to the mother relying on her teen daughters for help during the day.
Detective Kimberly Mayfield reported that the teens were only responsible for a few hours of childcare in the mornings. After interviewing the teen, Mayfield said she had decided to kill the baby on the day prior to the actual murder.
“But at that point in time, she hadn’t decided how. On the day of the murder, she decided how.”
The teen herself reported the drowning to 911 on January 26. A paramedic from the Dallas Fire-Rescue reported that they walked into the bathroom to find the baby’s face in a bowl of water.
“There was no movement. I personally took the baby and wrapped it in a blanket.”
A Dallas police officer reported that the teen was calm about the incident, simply stating what she did in a matter of fact tone.
“I said, ‘What happened?’ and she said, ‘I drowned her’ and I said, ‘Ya what?’ She said ‘I drowned her.”’
The police major, Sherwin, shared his sentiment shortly after the crime that no matter what the baby’s biological mother had done as a drug addict, she most certainly did not deserve for her baby to be killed in this way. Motives for the crime seem to be that the teen was tired of providing childcare. Defense attorneys hope that the Dallas teen receives counseling as she serves her 40-year sentence for drowning the baby.
[Photo courtesy of Ron Baselice/Dallas News]