By Will Johnson
CROCKETT – A Crockett couple is in jail and face capital murder charges in regard to the death of a two-month-old infant.
Natayia Kamari Thomas, 22, and Ashton Derione Sessum, 23, were taken into custody on Monday, Oct. 8 and charged with the capital felony which stemmed from their alleged actions on or about Sept. 30. The couple had recently relocated to Crockett from the Houston area.
According to Crockett Police Chief Clayton Smith, officers with the Crockett Police Department were notified on Sept. 30 “… of a vehicle reportedly heading to Crockett Medical Center (CMC) with an unresponsive two month old infant.”
When the law enforcement officials arrived at the emergency room, they met with Houston County EMS personnel and the CMC medical staff.
“It was reported to Crockett Police Department (officials) that the infant was likely a victim of abuse and would likely not survive. Child Protective Services was notified and responded to the hospital as well and began a joint investigation with the Crockett Police Department,” Smith stated in a press release issued on Oct. 10.
The ER doctors, nurses and other medical staff were able to resuscitate the infant. However, due to the critical nature of the injuries, a decision was made to transfer the child to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.
On Oct. 1, Smith indicated CPD detectives traveled to Texas Children’s Hospital in order “… to meet with medical staff and the mother and father of the child. Upon arriving we were immediately notified that the infant would likely not survive and that it was definitely a case of child abuse.”
The medical staff at Texas Children’s Hospital further revealed the infant had suffered numerous internal injuries, a traumatic brain injury, as well as multiple fractured bones and ribs. The CPD detectives also met with the Child Abuse Team at the hospital who confirmed the injuries were consistent with abuse. No other causes for the infant’s injuries were indicated.
Both Thomas and Sessum were interviewed by the CPD detectives but “… could not provide an explanation as to how their two-month-old infant sustained the traumatic injuries. Sessum ultimately admitted to violently dropping the infant on one occasion and violently shaking the infant on a second occasion. Messages found in both Thomas and Sessum’ s phone indicated that Thomas was aware of anger outburst(s) from Sessum with the infant, but did nothing to stop Sessum from lashing out again or to protect the infant,” Smith stated.
On Friday, Oct. 4, the police chief reported his department was notified the infant had passed away due to the inflicted injuries. Smith went on to state the preliminary cause of death was abusive head trauma. A full autopsy was performed by the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office, however, the results have not yet been released.
Warrants for the arrests of Sessum and Thomas were obtained, charging them both with the capital murder in the death of a child under 10-years-of-age. Both warrants had preset bonds of $1 million.
On Oct. 8, CPD officers and detectives once again traveled to the Houston area. This time, they met with Houston Police Department’s Warrant Extraction Team.
According to Smith, “We then accompanied the HPD Warrant Extraction Team to a location that we determined Sessum and Thomas were staying. Both were taken into custody without incident.”
Sessum and Thomas were transported to the Harris County Processing Unit where they were magistrated and later transported back to Crockett.
Smith expressed his appreciation to all the various agencies involved with this case including: Child Protective Services; the Child Abuse Pediatric Team with Texas Children’s Hospital; the Texas Department of Public Safety- Texas Rangers; the Houston County District Attorney’s Office; the Houston Police Department- Warrant Extraction Team; the Crockett Medical Center- Emergency Room medical staff; and Houston County EMS.
“We ask that you keep everyone involved with this investigation in your prayers. These cases are extremely difficult to deal with as they take an emotional toll on everyone. We ask that you keep the siblings and extended family of this infant victim in your prayers as they have tougher days ahead. The Crockett Police Department is committed to seeking justice for this infant child and will continue to work diligently on providing the highest quality of investigative case work possible. I would also like to commend my officers and detectives for the dedication and hard work they have put forth and continue to put forth on this investigation,” the police chief stated.
According to the Texas Penal Code, Section 12.31 (a), “An individual adjudged guilty of a capital felony in a case in which the state seeks the death penalty shall be punished by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for life without parole or by death. An individual adjudged guilty of a capital felony in a case in which the state does not seek the death penalty shall be punished by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for: (1) life, if the individual committed the offense when younger than 18 years of age; or (2) life without parole, if the individual committed the offense when 18 years of age or older.”
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.