NEW BOSTON, Texas—A father who beat his 4-year-old son to death earlier this year was sentenced to life in prison Friday by a Bowie County jury.
Benearl Jermane Lewis Jr., 25, was ordered to pay a maximum $10,000 fine as well. A jury of nine women and three men convicted Lewis Thursday of felony murder in the death of little D'Money Lewis.
D'Money's mother, Khadijah Wright, 26, is scheduled for trial Dec. 11 before 5th District Judge Bill Miller on a charge of injury to a child by omission. Wright faces five to 99 years or life if convicted.
Witnesses at Benearl Lewis' trial testified that a Child Protective Services safety plan was in place at the time of D'Money's death that prohibited Benearl Lewis from being alone with his children or from spending the night in the home with them. But on the morning of March 6, Wright went to her job at a local manufacturing plant, clocking in for her 7 a.m. shift after leaving D'Money and his then 6-year-old brother at their house on Redwater Road in Wake Village in the sole care of Lewis.
Wright hastily left work without notifying a supervisor or clocking out at about 2 p.m. that day after receiving a text from Lewis and speaking briefly with him on the phone, witnesses testified. Approximately two hours later Lewis and Wright pulled up in their SUV next to a Texarkana, Texas, police car working a traffic accident on Seventh Street near Bishop Lane.
Upon learning that a small child in the SUV was unresponsive, officers summoned back a fire truck and ambulance that had just departed the crash. Firefighters scrambled to find a hard, flat surface on which to lay the young boy's body to administer CPR. When the ambulance carrying a crash victim returned to the scene, Lifenet paramedics began assisting the firemen, and D'Money was transported to Wadley Regional Medical Center in a second ambulance.
First responders were able to revive D'Money's heart, but scans performed at Wadley showed the boy's prognosis was grim. A severe traumatic head injury had caused D'Money's brain to bleed, swell, and herniate into his spinal column. He died less than 48 hours later in Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock.
A medical examiner and a pediatrician specializing in child abuse cases testified that D'Money suffered damage internally around his liver and a kidney which likely was caused by a separate blow than the one that caused the head injury. Bruising was found on D'Money's back, chest, head and arms, and strap marks were noticeable on the backs of his legs. The medical examiner described scars in his groin area, which she attributed to past abuse.
Lewis told investigators and doctors that D'Money was injured when he fell from a chest freezer in the family's home, which stands 34 inches high. Medical experts testified at trial that there is no way his injuries were caused by such a fall.
"The murder of a child is an unspeakable crime, and we are thankful the jury recognized that this defendant's actions deserved nothing short of a life sentence," Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards said. "Everyone who worked on this case from day one did everything in their power to make sure that justice was served for D'Money Lewis."
Richards and Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp managed the state's prosecution. Texarkana lawyer Derric McFarland represented Lewis.