Scott’s statements to police presented at trial; Victim’s sister, 13, takes stand
A jury was shown video and audio Wednesday of a police interview between Kashon Scott and a Cape Coral lieutenant regarding Scott’s alleged killing of 3-year-old Zahid Jones Jr.
Scott is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse, and if convicted faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Nicole Brewington, Zahid’s mother, is charged with manslaughter of a child and faces 30 years in jail if convicted. Brewington is awaiting trial.
The interview between Lt. Michael Urraro and Scott conducted on May 29, 2007 — the same day Zahid died — was shown to the jury as a state exhibit.
“He said, ‘I want to talk to you,'” said Urraro to the jury Wednesday, referring to Scott.
The interview was the third Scott has had with police, and was initiated by Scott following two previous interviews with detective Christy Ellis and another officer.
“Sir, I did not murder him,” Scott said to Urraro on the video, talking about Zahid.
The video showed Urraro telling Scott that Brewington and her two children, Jack and Jessica Nash, gave matching statements that he punched Zahid in the chest shortly before his death, which a medical examiner later ruled a homicide by blunt-force trauma.
But Scott insisted he never punched Zahid in the chest, and instead said that it was his friends and his brother who roughhoused the boy. Scott also mentioned performing CPR by pounding with his fists on Zahid’s chest.
Scott admitted to punishing Zahid with a belt on his legs and buttocks, referencing an instance over the weekend before Zahid’s death when he whipped the boy in a bathroom of their Cape Coral home.
Jack and Jessica have both testified to hearing whipping and crying in the bathroom in reference to the instance Scott spoke of to Urraro.
“To go from whipping with a belt to dying, that’s a little far fetched,” Scott said.
Scott admitted to Urraro in the video that he had anger problems, and agreed he could use anger management counseling.
Scott’s lawyer, Michael Reiter, asked Urraro on Wednesday if he was just trying to get on Scott’s good side by offering him anger management courses. He asked if Urraro believed that Scott would be allowed to take the courses.
“It’s possible,” Urraro said.
Reiter argued that the state prosecution team, lead by Assistant State Attorney Francine Donnarummo, should have to present the two police statements previous to the one shown in court Wednesday to keep the jury from being mislead. He said the third statement is linked to the previous two and shown alone is an inaccurate representation of Scott’s conversations with police.
Donnarummo argued the state reserved the right to present whatever evidence it wished to present during its case, and that while she reserved the right not to show the first two interviews, Reiter’s defense team could not present the information on the basis of hearsay.
Presiding Lee County Circuit Judge Mark Steinbeck said he would have to review all three statements and a timeline to decide whether the statements are connected. If he decides they are, the state may be required to present the other two statements in court today.
Zahid’s sister Jessica, 13, testified Wednesday afternoon about the weekend before Zahid’s death. Their brother Jack testified Tuesday and Wednesday.
“He was acting normal,” Jessica said about Zahid on the Wednesday and Thursday before he died. No one hurt him on those days, she added.
That Friday, Jessica said, a representative from the Department of Children and Families visited their home and observed no problems with Zahid. Scott was not home at the time.
After arriving at the home Saturday, Scott punched Zahid and Jack in the chest, and slapped Zahid across the face over the weekend, Jessica told jurors.
She and Jack testified that they heard Scott and Zahid in the bathroom making belt sounds and banging, and Zahid crying.
“I was scared (of) Kashon, that he was going to hurt us,” Jessica said.
Jessica said her fear kept her from telling police about Scott’s violence during an initial interview, but that she later told them about it.
Zahid got sick that weekend around the time she saw Scott hit him, she said.
Jessica initially told police Zahid’s stomach hurt prior to Scott’s arrival on the Saturday before the boy’s death. She admitted Wednesday she was lying.
“He would always say his stomach was hurting and he was throwing up a lot,” Jessica said of Zahid. “He wasn’t playful, he would just sit down … he was throwing up because he couldn’t keep his food down. Shon (Kashon Scott) was feeding him. He got mad and grabbed him by his arm and picked him up and took him in the bathroom.”
By that Monday, Zahid “looked kind of dizzy and woozy … his face was turning purple and stuff,” she said.
Jessica said she told Scott and Brewington that Zahid was sick and had thrown up in various places around the house, but they did nothing. On Tuesday, Jessica awoke to her mother crying and her brother dead.
Chief Medical Examiner Rebecca Hamilton told jurors Tuesday an early diagnosis and treatment of Zahid could have saved his life.
Defense attorneys had a difficult time getting answers out of Jack and Jessica, who mostly replied with “I don’t remember,” to questions regarding the inconsistencies of their statements.
Attorney John Henry asked Jessica on Wednesday if the state had coached her to answer their questions and to answer “I don’t know” to the defense’s questions.
“Yes,” Jessica said after pausing for a long moment.
Donnarummo asked Jessica if they talked about saying “I don’t know” when she did not know the answer to a question, and Jessica said they did.
Reiter had a similar problem with Jack on Tuesday, and was forced to read a police interview by Jack to the jury because Jack could not recall any of the questions he spoke with police about during cross-examination.
Steinbeck ruled that both children knew the difference between a lie and the truth and were competent to testify.
Also testifying on behalf of the state on Wednesday were Cape Coral detectives Erica Cunningham and Christy Ellis, who heard statements made by Scott, Brewington, Jack and Jessica after Zahid’s death and took part in the investigation. Ellis was the lead detective on the case.
Crime scene technician Jaclyn Caron presented the jury with crime scene photographs inside and out of the home where Zahid died, as well as a bill in Scott’s name. She also presented two leather belts recovered from the home as police evidence.
Cape police victim’s advocate Marisol Pena was also a state witness on Wednesday and talked about her interaction with the family at the Cape Coral Hospital Emergency Room.
“At one point, (Scott) said to me ‘Why are you here? We don’t need you,'” Pena said. “He said to Nicole, ‘Don’t let the children be questioned by the police.’ He kept saying that over and over again to her. He was losing control and he was getting upset about it … because it seemed like Nicole was going to allow the children to talk to the police.”
Pena also recalled Brewington’s sister, Latroyer Lamar, telling the children not to talk to the police.
The trial recessed Wednesday evening to resume at 9 a.m. today. Ellis may be called to testify again for verification purposes of police interviews, as well any witnesses called on behalf of the defense.