Jury hands down sentence for woman convicted of murdering child
Under DA’s questioning, Matthew admits to lying about how much she drank before the wreck
A jury gave a Wichita Falls woman 60 years in prison Tuesday for murdering 4-year-old Christian Alizha Redmond in a DWI crash.
Christian was thrown from the vehicle and died Dec. 20, 2019, at the scene of the wreck in the 5000 block of Henry S. Grace Freeway.
The prekindergarten student at Booker T. Washington had attended a party and seen Santa Claus before Migel Julianna Matthew picked him up from school.
A six-woman, six-man jury chose from a range of 5 to 99 years for Matthew’s punishment.
She took the stand Monday to testify, often tearfully, about a terrible childhood growing up poor and abused on the island of Saint Kitts in the Caribbean.
Matthew told jurors her mother beat her daily with a garden hose because she was like her father in looks and personality.
She was raped repeatedly by three different men, starting at the age of 5, she told the jury.
Her first taste of alcohol came when she was 8 from a man who handed her a cup of rum and then raped her, Matthew testified.
She suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, alcohol-use disorder and bipolar disorder, according to testimony.
In his closing argument, defense attorney Gant Grimes urged jurors to consider her experiences and the resulting trauma as mitigating circumstances.
Grimes also told the jury in closing arguments that Matthew was remorseful and was going to seek help for her alcohol problem while in prison.
He asked jurors to consider a 5-year sentence.
During his closing arguments, Wichita County District Attorney John Gillespie suggested the jury start with a baseline of 45 years as punishment for the murder of a child.
When Gillespie cross examined Matthew Monday and Tuesday, he showed that she lied to police about how much she drank the day of the wreck and sought to convince jurors Matthew still did not take full responsibility for her actions and choices that led to Christian’s death.
In his closing statements, Gillespie drove home that Matthew did not seek help with her drinking problem even after the DWI crash.
“She never stopped drinking,” he said.
He told the jury that Matthew is not earnest about getting treatment for alcohol abuse.
Matthew’s bond was revoked because she violated bond conditions by drinking.
Gillespie ended his closing statements by recreating Christian’s last day at school.
“He’s been a good boy. Today is the day he gets to see Santa,” the DA said.
A photo of Christian with Santa was on display for the jury.
Christopher Redmond, Christian’s father, began weeping as the DA spoke.
”But you know this isn’t a happy holiday story,” Gillespie told the jury.
The people who should have cared for Christian did not keep him safe, the DA said.
“His life was ended for no good reason at all by this defendant,” Gillespie said. “This defendant will go on living.”
Christian’s mother was sentenced to 15 years for manslaughter for her role in his death. She was also convicted of four counts of endangering or abandoning a child. She was sentenced to two years for each count. The sentences are running concurrently.
The day of the wreck, Christian was thrown first from the car. His four siblings, Matthew and his mother, Tyneshia Chatman, were also ejected during the one-vehicle rollover accident about 1:30 p.m. Dec. 20, 2019.
Christian was the only one who suffered serious injuries. He died as a result of blunt-force trauma.
Matthew, Chatman and two of her female relatives had started drinking that morning to celebrate the children.
Then Chatman asked her to pick up three of her kids from school. They were getting out for the Christmas break.
After they got the children, Matthew began speeding across town to get to her child, according to testimony.
Trish Choate, enterprise watchdog reporter for the Times Record News, covers education, courts, breaking news, politics and more. Contact Trish with news tips at [email protected] Her Twitter handle is @Trishapedia.
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