Mother guilty of manslaughter in son’s death
Nicole Brewington was convicted late Friday of manslaughter in connection with the death of her 3-year-old son who was beaten to death by her boyfriend during Memorial Day weekend 2007.
Brewington faces up to 30 years in prison.
She stood stoically as the guilty verdict was read. Her attorney, Karen Elizabeth Miller, dropped her head back.
A single oh, could be heard from the gallery when the guilty verdict was announced.
The jury consisted of five white men and a black female. It took them about three hours to reach a verdict.
The judge remanded her into custody pending sentencing at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 19.
Some of Brewington’s family members broke into tears after court was adjourned.
During closing arguments earlier in the day Friday, Brewington’s attorney, public defender Karen Elizabeth Miller said Brewington didn’t willingly let her son die.
But Assistant State Attorney Carrie Pollock painted a picture of an indifferent mother who should have known Zahid Jones Jr., 3, had something worse than his typical stomach illness during Memorial Day weekend in 2007. Especially because her two older children told her their baby brother was hit in the chest by Kashon Scott, Brewington’s boyfriend.
Brewington is charged with being culpably negligence in the May 29, 2007 death of her child. Kashon Scott, now 32, was convicted in September 2008 of manslaughter for causing the injuries that lead to internal injuries which ultimately killed the boy. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison by Lee Circuit Judge Mark Steinbeck, the same judge presiding over Brewington’s trial. Scott refused to testify at Brewington’s trial because his case is on appeal.
“We see Nicole did nothing,” Pollock said during closing arguments. “From the point Kashon Scott was allowed in by Nicole Brewington, that started the clock ticking, counting down the hours of Jahid’s life.”
Brewington should have known her son was injured because his siblings, Jack Nash, then 10 years old, and Jessica Nash, then 12 years old, recognized the boy was running funny, turning colors, breathing funny and couldn’t keep food down.
Testimony showed Jones had thrown up in several rooms of the house during the weekend.
“A 12-year-old girl could see and Nicole Brewington, a woman in her 30s, couldn’t see it,” Pollock said. “They told their mother. They told their mother what was going on in that house. What was Nicole Brewington’s response? Nothing.”
The Nash children had just returned home with their mother the weekend Jones died. They had remained with an aunt to complete the school year. Brewington had lost custody of her children when they were found with Scott when he was accused of making an undercover drug deal. She regained custody in early April and moved to Cape Coral.
A recording of a hearing in which Brewington regained custody shows she understood a plan put into place to help her keep her children. Brewington was told Scott could not be with the children, not be a caretaker for them and not live with her.
Miller brought out in closing that Scott was never charged with a crime relating to the drugs, to which Pollock immediately objected. Steinbeck ruled the jurors should disregard those statements.
A search of court and jail records show no drug charges against Scott.
Pollock told the jury there was no way the mother could not have known her son was injured or beaten.
“Every one was there, everyone heard what was” occurring, she said. “All of the signs were there that Zahid was dying; that Zahid needed emergency care.”
Miller attempted to show that Brewington was a battered woman, scared to stand up against Scott. However Steinbeck disallowed any testimony of battered women’s syndrome to be heard by the jury.
In closing Miller said Scott controlled Brewington and would not allow her near Jones during that fateful weekend.
However Brewington did contact a cousin because she had appointments that week and no car to get to them in. She spoke with a sister Memorial Day, the day before Jones died, and said nothing.
“Nicole Brewington had many opportunities that weekend to save her son’s life and she did nothing,” Pollock told the jury.
“She failed her child,” she said. “She was put on notice. Kashon Scott is not a person who should be around her children. But she let him in with a bag of clothes. She let him in for that weekend. She recklessly disregarded her own children.”
The jury was shown photos of the boy’s bruised body. Brewington testified Scott was good to her children and she saw no bruising on Zahid.
“Those pictures clearly show bruises almost literally from his head to toe,” Pollock said. “The signs were all there. Nicole Brewington never once looked. Those bruises did not develop between the time he got to the hospital and (the morgue). Zahid’s mother didn’t look.”
Miller however, had a different take on her client.
Brewington didn’t willfully, intentionally or knowingly kill her child.
The morning of the child’s death, the day after the Nash children told their mother Scott had hit Jones, she was attempting to get him to eat
“We know the child was awake for awhile,” Miller said in closing. “Long enough for Nicole to go out and heat some pork and beans and try to feed him. His eyes roll back in his head, his head falls back. She realizes there’s a grave medical situation.”
As to the internal infection that killed Jones, it occurs over hours and days.
“It doesn’t happen immediately,” Miller said. “She had no way of knowing what had happened. What caused Zahid’s death was a punch in the stomach.”
Her children told her he was punched in the chest.
Miller pointed out that Brewington is not a professional who would recognize a severe illness.
“She didn’t kill him,” Miller said. “She didn’t cause his death. She didn’t cause his injury.”
Also, Brewington “seemed surprised that Kashon showed up. She wasn’t expecting him until the next day. What can be worse than something happening to your child? You can’t help it if some monster comes and preys on your child and you don’t know about it.”