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Mothers testify in trial for Arlington high school shooter

Mother of slain high schooler testifies in front of son's killer
Mother of slain high schooler testifies in front of son's killer 02:44

ARLINGTON ( - The mother of a boy killed in a school shooting in Arlington and the mother of the shooter both testified in the latter boy's murder trial Wednesday, and both for the prosecution.

The 16-year-old who faces up to 40 years in prison for the March 2023 shooting outside Lamar High School, had little reaction to his mother taking the witness stand, just a day after prosecutors said she had not visited her son once since his arrest.

Bertha Sanford, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, said she was close with her son, calling and texting often, but saw no change in him in the months before the shooting that would have explained his behavior.

"If something happened he hid it, and he hid very well," she said.

The boy's defense team has continually raised his claim this week that he was sexually assaulted at school in October of 2022.

They challenged Sanford that she was as close with her son as she claimed. 

Attorney Lisa Herrick got Sanford to admit she had asked if she had to come to her son's trial when it was originally scheduled in August, and that she planned to immediately return to Louisiana after her testimony Wednesday. Herrick also pointed out she lied about how many children she had, that another son was in jail, and a daughter had truancy hearings.

Prosecutors finished making their case by calling Roshone Jacobs to the witness stand, the mother of Ja'Shawn Poirier who was killed instantly in the shooting. Jacobs said she was still trying to wrap her mind around her son's death, saying she feels "stuck in a nightmare."

She recalled that she usually would take her son to the bus stop each day, but that day she had to go to work early so a friend ended up taking him to school.

Prosecutors also showed video Wednesday from inside the Tarrant County juvenile detention center in August, the morning the boy's trial was supposed to begin.

The video shows a detention officer bringing a roll of toilet paper to the boy's cell early in the morning, and when he opens the door, the boy pushes past him, knocking the guard's keys to the ground. The boy picked up the keys and ran to another room.

When the officer caught up to him, the boy knocked him down again and then appeared to hit him with the keys. As more detention officers ran to help, a guard could be seen picking up a mop and swinging it at the boy.

A detention officer eventually was able to restrain him and get him back into his room.

The boy's attorneys started their defense case with a psychologist who testified about the differences in how juveniles make decisions compared to adults, and the director of the Gainesville State School, who talked about the schooling and trade training classes juveniles take at the correctional facility.

The boy's great-aunt also testified that she had tried to encourage special education for him when she recognized he was struggling in school and at home. She began to cry on the witness stand, saying she felt guilty she could not have done more to help him.

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