The mother of a nine-month-old girl who died last year after ingesting drugs was sentenced to 20 years in prison after sentencing last week.
On the morning of April 18, 2020, the Mabank Police Department was dispatched to a residence at 100 11th St., finding a nine-month-old girl lying dead on the floor.
The girl's mother, Davina Rogers, and father, Tony Luis Guerra, were arrested on June 24, 2020, and both were charged with injury to a child with serious bodily injury, a second-degree felony.
Rogers’ trial was on Sept. 13 and 14 at the Kaufman County Courthouse.
Rogers pleaded guiltyto the state’s charge. According to Judge Casey Blair, Rogers did not accept a plea offer from the prosecution and entered a slow plea, meaning she was entering a guilty plea and requesting to be sentenced by a jury.
The state district attorney team brought in five witnesses to testify on the first day of the trial. The first witness to take the stand was Colton Perry, who was Rogers' and Guerra’s neighbor. On the morning of April 18, Perry testified he heard someone pounding on his front door and screaming "please help my baby."
Perry opened his door to see Rogers standing holding an infant.
“I was confused,” Perry said. He continued, “The coloration (of the child) wasn’t there.” Perry handed the lifeless infant to his fiancé, who checked for a pulse and began administering chest compressions when she could not find a pulse. As Perry’s fiancé gave chest compressions to the infant, Perry took his younger son out of the room and called 911.
The second witness was Dr. Elizabeth Ventura, a medical examiner and forensic pathologist for Dallas County and surrounding areas.
Ventura was asked to review and confirm all of her reports and findings so the jury was able to fully understand what Ventura discovered during the autopsy of the nine-month-old.
Ventura read aloud to the court and jury that the child looked normal externally as well as internally; no trauma or disease was found inside the child’s body. When Ventura documented her toxicology report, she found that the child had large amounts of oxycodone and oxymorphine in her blood. Both medications are narcotics used to treat severe pain.
Ventura testified the child had 2.3 milligrams per liter of oxycodone in her blood stream; the lethal limit for an adult is .5 to .8 milligrams per liter. The high dose of the narcotic in the child’s system was deemed the cause of death.
She said the questions that lingered was how the child got the narcotic in her system and why it was such a high amount.
The first officer responding to the scene testified. The state played the body camera recording for the court as part of the prosecution's evidence. The first clip of the body camera footage showed the type of environment the family lived in. The officer said there was an immediate smell of marijuana as he neared the home's threshold. Officers confiscated multiple drug paraphernalia items, including pipes, marijuana, a marijuana grinder, and small plastic bags. After talking to Rogers, an officer asked her for her identification. As Rogers searched for her ID and couldn’t find it after a few minutes, the officer thought she was under the influence of something because of her disoriented state while looking for the ID, as well as after finding it.
The second officer who was on scene agreed with his fellow officer, testifying that Rogers was disoriented and that “she seemed lost.”
The last to testify for the state was Texas Department of Public Service Special Agent Maury Buford, who was asked by the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office to help investigate the case. Buford interviewed Rogers at the sheriff’s office for almost six hours on Sept. 24, 2020. Buford noted that Rogers was calm when she told Buford about her life and that she was addicted to the narcotic drugs oxycodone, hydrocodone, Suboxone, and Xanax. However, when Rogers talked about her child and the the death, she became very emotional and regretful.
During Buford’s interview with Rogers, she revealed that she had been addicted to narcotics for seven years following her first child’s birth. Rogers would find herself constantly buying drugs to feed her body’s addiction. Rogers told Buford that when she tried to get sober from the narcotics, she would become severely sick and started using drugs to steer away from getting sick again.
After Rogers told Buford everything about her drug addiction, as well as the days leading up to the death of her child, Buford said he believed Rogers didn’t purposefully give the narcotics to her child.
This left Buford and Rogers to thinking of scenarios as to how Rogers’ child ingested the pill. Buford said Rogers believes that in the midst of a drug high, she dropped some of the drugs and didn’t notice. Since Rogers’ child was at the stage of crawling and walking, they believe the child picked up the pills and ingested them.
Blair called a recess following the final witness’s testimony. The court resumed trial at 9 a.m. on Sept. 14.
Once court resumed, Rogers’ defense attorney, Joseph Russell, brought in Rogers’ mother, Jessica Hamilton, to testify. Hamilton described the defendant as quiet, calm, loving, and a great mother; Hamilton was not aware of her daughter’s drug abuse. On the day of the accident, Hamilton described Rogers as inconsolable. Hamilton also commented that she knew something was off about Rogers that day, but had no idea that she was on drugs.
Following Hamilton, Rogers took the stand. Rogers described her relationship with her children and how she started using drugs.
“I knew I wasn’t supposed to do it, but I was selfish," Rogers testified. "I thought I was a functioning addict, but I don’t think it is such a thing.”
Rogers said after the death of her child, she was cleaning and found a pair of pants, inside one of the pockets was a small bag with holes that had oxycodone in it. Rogers believes that the pills that her child ingested fell out of the bag with the holes and she never noticed they fell out.
She then directed her attention to the jury and stated, “My child died because of me and I will live with it for the rest of my life, everyday. It is my fault.”
After relaying to the jury and the court that she owns up to her actions and expressed her remorse, the state and defense attorneys both presented their final arguments.
With all information and statements heard, the jury left to discuss what punishment they believed to be right to serve justice for the victim. The range of punishment for the second-degree felony charge was two to 20 years.
After deliberation, the jury sentenced Rogers to 20 years in prison.
"The court wishes to thank both the state and the defense, the district clerk, sheriff's department, court staff, and the citizens who served as jurors for their professionalism and hard work," Judge Blair wrote in his statement.
The defense appealed the case following the sentencing. Rogers was led out of the courtroom to begin serving her sentence.