NEW BOSTON, Texas—A jury of three men and nine women was chosen Tuesday afternoon to decide the fate of a father accused of capital murder in the death of his 4-year-old son.
Benearl Jermane Lewis, 25, is allegedly to blame for fatal injuries suffered by young D'Money Lewis in March. If found guilty of capital murder, Benearl Lewis faces life without the possibility of parole as the state is not seeking the death penalty.
Benearl Lewis' indictment, handed down earlier this year by a Bowie County grand jury, lists alternative offenses of murder and first-degree injury to a child. Should a jury choose to convict Benearl Lewis of one of the lesser offenses than capital murder, he faces five to 99 years or life in prison.
Benearl Lewis has been behind bars since his arrest several days after D'Money was rushed to an area hospital on March 6. An investigator with the Wake Village, Texas, Police Department who responded to the hospital at the request of medical personnel, documented marks and bruising on the child's body before D'Money was airlifted to Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock, where he later died.
At the time of D'Money's death, a Child Protective Services care plan—with the provision that Benearl Lewis not be left alone with D'Money—had been in place. But D'Money's mother, Khadijah Wright, allegedly left D'Money and his older brother alone with Benearl Lewis when she went to work.
Wright allegedly left her job about 2 p.m. March 6 at a local manufacturing plant, without clocking out or telling anyone she was leaving, after receiving a text from Lewis that there was an emergency. A little more than two hours later, the couple came upon a traffic accident being worked by Texarkana, Texas, police at West Seventh Street and Bishop Lane. The couple told officers they had a child in the car who was unresponsive and not breathing, and that they lived in the 200 block of Redwater Road in Wake Village.
After initial treatment at Wadley Medical Center in Texarkana, Texas, D'Money was airlifted to Arkansas Children's Hospital. Medical staff there told investigators the boy's injuries were inconsistent with the account allegedly provided by his parents.
Lewis and Wright allegedly told investigators that D'Money had "jumped or fallen from a deep freezer and that his eyes rolled back in his head," the affidavit states. Lewis allegedly said that after determining the child wasn't breathing, he and Wright decided to take the boy to the hospital in their car. After D'Money's death March 8, his body was taken to Dallas for an autopsy. Among the damage documented to the child's body was a "space occupying subdural hematoma" that had caused the child's brain to "herniate down into his spine," the affidavit states. Also noted at autopsy were bruising to the child's legs and back, and tissue damage in his kidneys.
Khadijah Wright has been charged with injury to a child by omission in D'Money's death and faces five to 99 years or life in prison if convicted. Her case is scheduled for trial before Miller in December. Wright is free on a $20,000 bond.
A verdict is expected by the end of the week.