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Dallas woman guilty in stepson's dehydration death

| Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, 7:42 p.m.

DALLAS — A Dallas woman was convicted Friday in the dehydration death of her 10-year-old stepson, who was denied water for days during record-high temperatures.

Jurors deliberated more than two hours before finding Tina Marie Alberson, 44, guilty of second-degree felony injury to a child in the July 2011 death of Jonathan James.

Alberson faces up to life in prison because of a previous felony conviction of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Police thought Jonathan's death was heat-related until the medical examiner's report.

Alberson testified in her own defense. She told jurors she limited Jonathan's water intake only a few times as punishment for misbehaving. Alberson said she saw him drinking water when he wasn't in “time-out” and saw no sign he was in medical distress.

The boy's fraternal twin brother, now 12, testified that Jonathan repeatedly asked for water and even pretended to use the bathroom to sneak a drink from the faucet. Joseph James told jurors he was concerned for his brother's health but was too afraid of Alberson to do anything.

After her stepson died, Alberson was charged with first-degree felony injury to a child, in which someone knowingly or recklessly causes harm that creates a substantial risk of death. It carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

The lesser charge for which Alberson was convicted carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence, but jurors can sentence her to a maximum of life in prison because she previously was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

The boy's father, Michael Ray James, 43, is set for trial next month.

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