Children testify at mother’s trial for manslaughter
The afternoon before toddler Zahid Jones Jr. died, his older sister told their mother the boy had been punched in the chest by Kashon Scott.
Jessica Nash, who is now 15 years old but was only 12 when her brother died, testified Tuesday for the prosecution in the opening day of her mother’s trial.
Nicole Brewington is charged with manslaughter in the May 29, 2007, death of Zahid in the family’s house at 3525 N.E. 18th Ave. She is accused of not seeking medical treatment for the 3-year-old, who died after being beaten by her boyfriend.
In September 2008, Scott, now 32, was found guilty of aggravated death of a child and aggravated child abuse. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison by Lee County Circuit Judge Mark Steinbeck, the same judge who is presiding over Brewington’s case.
In her opening statements, assistant public defender Karen Elizabeth Miller said Brewington was not the one who inflicted the injuries on Zahid, and that Brewington had no way of knowing he had been beaten.
“You will hear he was a child with a sick stomach, not unlike other times he’s been sick,” Miller said.
Zahid had stomach problems throughout his young life.
“You will hear that Zahid Jones Sr. was about to be released from prison and Kashon Scott was jealous,” she said. “You will hear that Kashon Scott caused the injury that lead to the death. You will hear that Kashon Scott was not in that house on Friday.”
However, Brewington’s surviving children contradicted the attorney’s statement, testifying that they remember Scott being at the home as early as the day of a child welfare worker’s visit.
Cynthia Morant, who was then employed by Lutheran Services of Florida, testified that she saw the children on May 25, 2007, the Friday before Memorial Day.
She checked Zahid for bruises on his torso and from mid-thigh down. He had none except for a small bruise on his knee, typical for a child his age, she said.
The next time she saw Zahid was May 29, 2007, at the emergency room where he had been taken by ambulance from his home. He was dead.
Assistant State Attorney Carrie Pollock said in her opening statements that Zahid was repeatedly throwing up the day before his death and Brewington did nothing to get him medical treatment. He was not eating, he was running slower and even his brother and sister noticed he was not doing “normal” things.
“All signs show that child was slowly dying,” Pollock told the jury. “Nicole Brewington’s lack of action and Nicole Brewington’s failure to (get medical treatment for Jones) lead to Zahid Jones’ death.”
Jessica said she, her mother and Jack Nash, another brother who was 10 at the time, took a walk the afternoon before the toddler’s death so she could tell her mother about the abuse. Scott and Zahid remained at the house.
“I was telling her how he would beat Zahid and stuff,” she testified.
Jessica said that the evening before Zahid’s death, he was having trouble breathing. Everyone but the boy was sitting in the living room and Scott was cooking. Zahid sat on a blanket or sleeping bag in the living room.
“Shon wouldn’t let him sit with us,” Jessica said.
The boy made a noise, much like having problems breathing, and Scott got to him before Brewington. He put the boy on his chest until he went to sleep.
“He wouldn’t let Mom have Zahid,” Jessica said. “I told Shon I think Zahid needs to go to the hospital because I think he’s going to die.”
Zahid was turning purple and blue. The next morning he was dead.
The children testified that they were scared of Scott.
The three children had been returned to Brewington just days before Zahid’s death. They had been taken from her earlier by authorities because they were with Scott when he made a drug deal with an undercover officer.
For a while, the two older children lived with Brewington’s sister, Latroya Lamar, so they could finish the school year. Jack added that it was to keep them away from Scott.
Lamar testified that she had not seen any bruises on Zahid the last time she saw him, which was a few days before his death.
She called her sister on Memorial Day to invite her and the children to a barbecue. Brewington did not mention anything was wrong during the conversation, which lasted mere seconds.
Miller brought out in testimony that Brewington had no car, and that she had attempted to contact a cousin for a ride the night before Zahid died. Jessica said there was no answer and they stayed in the secluded area.
The day before Zahid died, Scott gave the boy several baths, the children testified.
Scott “put bleach in the water to try to make the marks go away,” Jessica said.
Jack testified that he remembered Scott giving the boy several baths that day “because he had bruises on him. He didn’t want my mom to see the bruises.”
Both testified that they heard and saw Scott beating Zahid.
Jack said he saw Scott punch Zahid in the chest with his fist causing him to fall. The boy was hit for not eating.
“He tell him hurry up, eat, and if you don’t, you get a whooping,” Jack testified.
He also said Zahid was running “funny,” and that their mother saw that.
Jessica described a time during the Memorial Day weekend when the boy was hit by Scott.
“He told Zahid to get up and run to the door and he couldn’t run because he was hurting,” she said.
Scott would hit Zahid while he was trying to run. She testified that both her brothers were punched by Scott.
Another time during the holiday weekend, Zahid went into Jessica’s bedroom during the night.
“I guess he was sick. His tummy was hurting,” she said, adding that she asked if he needed to go to the bathroom.
Jessica said Zahid said no and lay down beside her, then woke up again. He was on his way to his room, but Scott found him and told him to go into the bathroom.
She said she heard the sounds of a beating and something hitting the wall. All went quiet.
“He told Zahid to bend over again. ‘I ain’t done,'” she testified that she heard Scott tell her brother.
The morning of Zahid’s death, emergency medical personnel and law enforcement officers were called to the house for an unresponsive child, according to testimony.
Cape Coral police officer Robert Reese said he was the first to arrive and found the mother crying over the boy and a man on the telephone.
The boy had vomit in his mouth, was not breathing and had no pulse. Reese began life-saving techniques until paramedics arrived.
Nicholas Bonnici, a Cape Coral firefighter and paramedic, said the child was unresponsive when he arrived and took over cardiopulmonary resuscitation, which he continued until arrival at the hospital. The child never began breathing nor did he regain a pulse.
Testimony in the case is expected to continue at least through Thursday. Miller said Brewington plans to take the stand. It is unclear if Scott will testify in the case.