DALLAS (AP) — A North Texas jury took less than an hour to find a woman guilty Tuesday in the 2011 starvation death of her 10-year-old stepson.
The Dallas County jury found Elizabeth Ramsey, 33, guilty of intentional serious injury to a child in Johnathan Ramsey's death. Jurors begin hearing testimony Wednesday morning in the sentencing phase of Ramsey's trial and could sentence her to a maximum of life imprisonment.
The boy's 35-year-old father, Aaron Ramsey, is serving a life sentence already.
Prosecutors say the two locked the boy in his room at the family's Dallas home, then slowly starved him on a diet of bread and water and dumped his emaciated body in a rural area south of Dallas in 2011. The body was found the next year in a creek.
The stepmother's attorneys asserted that her husband kept her from reporting her stepson's ordeal.
Johnathan's grandfather, Edward Ramsey, had contacted police early in 2012 to ask them to search for the child because he had not seen the boy for more than a year. The boy's biological mother, Judy Williams, and other relatives did not see him for months. Williams lives in New Mexico and has custody of the couple's other son, according to relatives.
Police said Aaron and Elizabeth Ramsey, the child's stepmother, initially claimed the boy had gone to live with his mother but later confessed to starving the boy to death.
According to police, Aaron Ramsey said he put his son on "military rations" because the boy began to misbehave early last year. Ramsey said the boy had punched his stepmother in the stomach when she was pregnant, causing a miscarriage. Ramsey said he hit Johnathan in the chest and then locked him in a bedroom, according to the records.
Jurors in Elizabeth Ramsey's trial heard testimony that Ramsey was not pregnant after all.
Johnathan was found lying on the bedroom floor in August, according to court records. Aaron Ramsey told detectives he changed his son into his favorite T-shirt, placed him into a sleeping bag and inserted a dryer sheet to mask the smell of his body, the records said.