(CBS/AP) DALLAS - A Texas woman was sentenced to 85 years in prison Tuesday in the dehydration death of her 10-year-old stepson, who was denied water for days during record-high temperatures.
Tina Alberson, 44, was convicted Friday of injury to a child, a second-degree felony, for denying Jonathan James water for days during record-high temperatures in July 2011. Police initially thought Jonathan's death was heat-related until the medical examiner's report.
Alberson told jurors that she limited Jonathan's water intake a few times as punishment for misbehaving, and that she saw him drinking water when he wasn't in "time-out." She said she saw no sign that he was in medical distress.
The boy's twin brother, now 12, testified that Jonathan repeatedly asked for water and pretended to use the bathroom so that he could sneak a drink from the faucet before their stepmother ordered him out. Joseph James told jurors he was concerned for his brother's health but was too afraid of Alberson to do anything.
The twins' maternal grandmother, Sue Shotwell, testified that the boys didn't want to go to Alberson's house and that Jonathan couldn't understand why he was always in trouble with his stepmother.
The boy's father, Michael Ray James, 43, is set for trial next month.
Alberson faced up to life in prison because of a previous felony conviction. She was previously convicted in 1988 of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after hitting someone with her van.
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