A Houston-area mother convicted of mutilating her infant by cutting off his genitals two years ago was sentenced to 99 years in prison.
But minutes after the jury's sentence was read, Katherine Nadal, 28, yelled out that she did not hurt her son, prompting the boy's father to storm out of the courtroom.
Jurors deliberated for two hours Monday night before returning the sentence, which also included a $10,000 fine. The same jury had convicted her last week of first-degree felony injury to a child.
The jurors chose among possible sentences ranging from probation to life in prison. Nadal, who shook her head as the jury foreman read the sentence, will have to serve at least 30 years before she is eligible for parole.
Prosecutors asked for life in prison. Nadal's attorneys did not request a specific sentence, instead asking the jury to not punish her out of hate or revenge.
Nadal had claimed the family dog, a 6- to 7-pound dachshund named "Shorty" was responsible for mutilating her then-5-week-old son, Holden Gothia, as he slept in his parent's bedroom in March 2007 at their suburban Houston apartment.
But prosecutors said she was high on drugs when she mutilated her son with an unknown sharp instrument. Authorities say Nadal, who had prior drug arrests, tested positive for cocaine, methadone and Xanax after the attack.
Holden survived, but the severed body parts were never found.
'I failed him'
After the sentence was announced, Holden's paternal aunt, Patches DeShazo, who has custody of the now 2-year-old boy, read a victim impact statement in the courtroom.
"I am thankful by the time you are eligible for parole you will be beyond childbearing years. It makes me crazy to this very day to hear you say I did not hurt him," DeShazo said as she read her statement.
That prompted Nadal to yell back from the table where she sat with her defense attorneys: "I failed him. I did not hurt him."
The boy's father, Camden Gothia, then stood up and yelled to Nadal, "You abused him when he was in the womb," a reference to Nadal having taken drugs when she was pregnant with Holden. Gothia then left the courtroom.
DeShazo and her husband were given custody after his parents relinquished their rights. His father sees him regularly.
After the hearing, prosecutor Tammy Thomas told reporters that Nadal will never admit what she did.
"I don't know if this is justice to merit the damage," a teary-eyed Thomas said. "This is as close as we can get."
Allen Isbell, one of Nadal's attorneys, said he was disappointed that the sentence was "so long."
During closing arguments in the punishment phase of the trial, Thomas told jurors that Nadal had sentenced her child to a life of pain and suffering. "She took his identity as a human being and either flushed it or threw it in a trash can," Thomas added.
Doctors testified that he faces years of surgeries and counseling.
Nadal's attorneys told jurors that nothing they did would help Holden.
"This jury must punish Katie Nadal. That's your job. But what is appropriate? I hope you don't do it out of hate or revenge," defense attorney Skip Cornelius said.
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