Boy, 10, died of dehydration, stepmom on trial

Michael James, Tina Alberson
Dallas County Sheriff's Dept. via CBS DFW
(CBSW) DALLAS - The father of a 10-year-old boy who died from dehydration, as well as the boy's twin brother, testified Thursday against the woman they say is responsible for the death of Jonathan James.

During the summer of 2011, Jonathan was allegedly punished for bad behavior by being forced to stand in a room without air-conditioning, while balancing on an "X" duct-taped on the floor, CBS DFW reports.

The father, Michael James is also charged in the case, but Thursday he was on the stand for the prosecution, testifying against the boy's stepmother, Tina Alberson.

According to CBS DFW, Jonathan's twin brother, Joseph, told the court that Alberson told Jonathan to, "Stand there for five more minutes and be quiet." But he said even if his brother complied he received no reward. "He still wouldn't get the water, but if he wasn't in trouble then he got water."

The last time the boy was punished, he was in the room for three days without water.

Prosecutors say the conditions left Jonathan severely dehydrated and that 911 wasn't called until the child passed out. His brother testified, "I was going in and she [Alberson] said, 'Tell B.J. [his stepbrother] to come help.' And B.J. comes running in and I run in there too and I see him, he's sitting in the tub and that's when they pulled him out and started trying to do CPR."

After receiving the 911 call, paramedics responded and took Jonathon to the hospital. He died on July 25, 2011, CBS DFW reports.

Alberson's husband and Jonathan's biological father, Michael James, testified that he is handicapped, was medicated and did not know his son was being punished so severely. Thursday he told the jury he blames Alberson for Jonathan's death. "Because I felt like she was the one responsible for, for him ending up the way he did," he testified.

Alberson is charged with felony injury to a child, and if convicted faces up to life in prison.

Even though the boy's father testified for the prosecution, his testimony can later be used against him when he goes on trial.