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Stepmom Gets 85 Years For Dehydration Death Of Boy

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Tina Alberson. (credit: Dallas County Jail)

Tina Alberson. (credit: Dallas County Jail)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A stepmother convicted of reckless injury to a child was sentenced to 85 years in prison for her crime.

After deliberating for less than half an hour on Friday and an hour Tuesday morning, a Dallas County jury sentenced Tina Alberson for her role in the death of a 10-year-old boy.

The punishment phase of the Reckless Injury to a Child case for Alberson ended with a guilty verdict last week and a prison sentence of 85 years today. Alberson, 44 , must also pay a $10,000 fine.

Jonathan James died during the summer of 2011, after he was “punished for misbehaving” by being forced to stand in a room without air-conditioning for three days without water.

James’ grandmother, Sue Shotwell, testified as part of a victim impact statement.

“Tina, I want you to know that I have forgiven you,” she said.  “I can only speak for me. I cannot speak for the rest of the family.”

Alberson refused to look at the Shotwell while she was on the stand.

“I know he loved you and we trusted you. We trusted you with our baby,” Shotwell said.

She also thanked the jury for handing down the 85-year prison sentance. Shotwell later said she was relieved when she heard the sentance read.

“Jonathon was a loving child and he forgave easily and I figure if he can forgive easily so can I,” Shotwell said.

Unlike Shotwell, many of James’ other family members are not ready to forigve Alberson.

“They know they should and they will eventually. But it’s very hard for a mama to forgie someone who just killed your child,” Shotwell said.

Immediately after the conclusion of the trial, Alberson’s defense attorney Bill Fay, filed an appeal.

“I’ll leave it up to the appellate lawyers to determine what grounds they’d like to raise on appeal,” he said.

During the trial Jonathan’s biological father, Michael James, who also faces charges in relation the death testified that Alberson was the, “…one responsible for him [Jonathan] ending up the way he did.”

Jonathan’s twin brother, Joseph, also took the stand and told jurors he found it hard to recognize his brother after he was forced to stay in the room for several days. Joseph said his brother was, “Exhausted, burnt up… he didn’t look like the normal kid that I knew. He just, he looked different.”

Alberson will be eligible for parole after serving less than 22 years.  James will go to trial next month.

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