A 37-year-old mother is facing up to 25 years behind bars after the jury found her guilty and convicted her few days ago for the death of her 5-year-old son who died as a result of “blunt force injuries and water submersion.” The woman had been torturing his son both psychologically and physically until he died.
According to the court documents, the woman’s boyfriend who lived together with her and the little boy was also facing the same charged and was convicted even earlier than the mother. He also faces up to 25 years behind bars and his sentencing hearing is currently scheduled for Nov. 19, at 9 a.m.
The fatal incident happened in June 2016 when the local police and medical personnel responded at the family’s house in California following a 911 call about a child drowning. The call was made by the mother, identified as the 37-year-old J. Prater, who told the dispatcher that her son “had swallowed water in the bathtub and was unresponsive.”
When first responders arrived at the scene, they found the little boy “clothed and dry in his bedroom.” The boy was unconscious and he was immediately taken to hospital where doctors attempted life-saving procedures, but he never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead few hours later.
Reportedly, hospital staff said that “medical evidence confirmed” that Zachary was the victim of “extensive abuse” before his death. An autopsy performed by the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office determined that the child’s cause of death was “blunt force injuries and water submersion.”
The couple was arrested the next day and was held in jail without bond. They remained in custody ever since.
The investigation showed that the couple moved in their new home just two months before the incident took place. As soon as the moved in, the first who started to abuse the little boy was mother’s boyfriend, the 45-year-old A. Caldwell. The prosecutors in court said that Caldwell began to “punish and abuse the little Zachary.”
Prate started taking part in the abuse sometime later as the little boy was abused both psychologically and physically and the subsequent physical abuse continued to get increasingly “more frequent and more violent.”
Prater’s best friend said she knew that the couple was beating the boy, but she was not aware that the whole thing went that far. According to her, Prater told her ‘they were spanking him with a belt and leaving marks because he was getting into their things.’ Another friend said that Prater had battled drug addiction in the past and believes that surely influenced her behavior and harming the boy.
Prater and Caldwell are each facing sentences of 25 years to life in prison. Prater’s sentencing hearing is currently scheduled for Dec. 10, at 10 a.m. Caldwell’s sentencing hearing is currently scheduled for Nov. 19, at 9 a.m.