Slain child’s brother testifies in Kashon Scott trial;
The 11-year-old brother of Zahid Jones Jr., 3, who medical examiners determined died of blunt-force trauma in May 2007 allegedly at the hands of Kashon Scott, took the witness stand Tuesday in Scott’s trial.
State prosecutors also called other witnesses to testify before the jury throughout the morning and afternoon, including the medical examiner who conducted Zahid’s autopsy, police and emergency personnel who responded to his Cape Coral home when he died and family members.
Scott is charged with first-degree homicide and aggravated child abuse, and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, according to State Attorney’s Office spokesperson Samantha Syoen.
Scott is the boyfriend of Zahid’s mother, Nicole Brewington.
Brewington is charged with manslaughter of a child in her son’s death. She awaits trial and faces 30 years in prison if convicted, according to officials.
Scott’s trial is held before Lee County Circuit Judge Mark Steinbeck. Twelve jurors and one alternate will serve on the trial after a lengthy jury selection Friday and the loss of a juror Tuesday morning for religious reasons.
Jack Benjamin Nash, Zahid’s brother, was 10 on May 29, 2007, when Zahid died. Jack demonstrated to jurors and council that he understood the difference between a lie and the truth before answering questions from prosecutors and Scott’s defense team.
“(Lies) don’t get you nowhere,” Jack said.
“Did you used to have a little brother?” Assistant State Attorney Francine Donnarummo asked Jack on direct examination.
“Yes, ma’am,” Jack replied quietly, referring to Zahid.
Donnarummo asked Jack about an initial police statement, when he said Scott and Brewington did not hit him, Zahid and sister Jessica Nash. He later entered a second police statement reporting Scott and Brewington were abusive.
“I told a lie because I was scared,” Jack told the jurors. “My sister told me to tell the truth.”
Jack said Scott punched him in the chest for breaking a cup, and that he had heard Scott beating Zahid over the 2007 Memorial Day weekend which Zahid died shortly after.
Jack said his brother quickly worsened over the weekend, becoming ill and losing his appetite. Zahid threw up in various places around their home.
“He would take a bit of something then he didn’t want it no more,” Jack said. “He would move slow … his stomach was hurting. Shon (Kashon Scott) beat him … after he threw up.”
But due to what defense attorney Michael Reiter called inconsistencies in Jack’s statements, and Jack’s confusion when attempting to recollect previous interviews with detectives and attorneys, Reiter was forced to impeach Jack on his deposition and written recorded police interviews.
“They provided numerous, inconsistent statements,” Reiter said during opening statements of Jack and Jessica Nash. “You’re going to hear a lot of ‘I don’t knows,’ and ‘I don’t remembers’ during this trial.”
Jack said he never saw Scott, who he called “Shon,” hit Zahid. He also said in the second police statement regarding Zahid’s death — which he testified was entirely truthful — that Brewington was at work on May 27, 2007, though she was unemployed at the time.
Following the dismissal of the jury Tuesday, Reiter motioned that he should be able to use Jack’s videotaped deposition as evidence since Jack could not recall any of the questions Reiter asked from the July interview.
Steinbeck said Reiter would have to impeach Jack, who will return to the stand today for state re-examination, on a question-by-question basis.
“He’s not being deceitful, I think he’s completely lost,” Steinbeck said.
“There were four opportunities for him to tell his story,” said the judge, referring to past interviews with police, child protection team investigators and attorneys.
Chief Medical Examiner Rebecca Hamilton said Zahid died due to blunt-force trauma as a result of homicide.
The Medical Examiner’s Office defines homicide as the taking of a life by a person or persons.
Some of the injuries Hamilton described when showing the jury autopsy photos of Zahid included bruises to the head, neck, face, buttocks, chest, feet, hand and arm, hemorrhaging beneath the skin, belt marks on his thighs and legs, bruises to his liver and a proliferated bowel, which caused fecal matter to leak into his abdominal cavity.
Hamilton said she was confident that the injuries which lead to his death occurred after the afternoon of May 25, 2007, when child protection team case manager Cynthia Merant visited the family and described Zahid as “playful” and without bruises.
“I have no medical way to determine what caused those traumas,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said aggressive CPR could have caused some of the internal injury, but not the proliferated bowel due to its location on the body.
Brewington’s sister, Latroyer Lamar, testified that Brewington and the children had lived with her for about a month prior to the weekend Zahid died. They went to stay at the Cape Coral home the Thursday before Zahid’s death, Lamar said. The children seemed playful and happy, and were not abused by Brewington or each other.
Brewington’s cousin, Reginald Cook, also testified there was no abuse that he was aware of prior to the 2007 Memorial Day weekend. Cook said he dropped Brewington and the children off at their home after Zahid was the ring bearer in his wedding.
In a verbal interview with a Cape Coral detective after Zahid’s death, Cook said he saw Scott at the home that day.
Daniel Dorraugh, a Lee County paramedic, and Cape Coral officer Robert Reese said they performed CPR on Zahid who was not breathing when he was taken into an ambulance to the Cape Coral Hospital.
“We had all discussed it in the truck that we’d noticed some bruising on the chest,” said Dorraugh. “The bruising covered approximately a third of his chest area.”
“The person who is on trial, your focal point today and throughout the course of the week, is going to be Kashon Scott,” said Donnarummo during opening statements Tuesday. “A 3-year-old child, Zahid Jones Jr., was punished to death.”
The trial has been recessed until today at 8:30 a.m. and is likely to continue through the week.