Fort Worth father of 2-year-old held her in a tub of scalding water

Posted Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013  Print Reprints
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FORT WORTH -- The father of a 2-year-old girl who soiled herself held the girl down in a bathtub filled with scalding water that caused burns to more than 30 percent of her body, according to court testimony Wednesday.

After the child died from the burns, her father stuffed her body in the trunk of a car then drove the car to pick up the child's mother from work.

Charles Bellamy is being tried on murder charges in the death of his daughter, Jaz'mine Howard Bellamy in state District Judge Louis Sturns' court.

Nizam Peerwani, the Tarrant County medical examiner, told the jury that a child would be able to get out of water hot enough to cause that much pain unless she was being held down.

The burn pattern indicates that the child struggled to escape the water, estimated at 120 degrees, and to escape the grasp of the person who was pinning her below the water line, Peerwani said.

"These immersion burns are very painful. As the heat continues, the skin begins to peel off," Peerwani said.

The skin shows damage from immersion burns within a few minutes, and within a few hours the child will go into shock and die, Peerwani said.

Jaz'mine Howard sustained first- and second-degree burns in an asymmetrical pattern on her lower torso, thighs, buttocks, lower back, feet and legs, Peerwani said.

The chance of surviving this type of burn injury is high if medical attention is received quickly, Peerwani said. Peerwani told the jury that Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas is one of the best burn centers in the nation, but the 2-year-old never got a chance to receive medical attention.

In a 911 tape played for the jury, a woman could be heard screaming, "No! She's dead! She's really cold! She's in the trunk of the car! She's got bruises and stuff!"

Joy Howard, 21, testified that the last time she saw her daughter alive was just before she left for work.

"Of course, Jaz'mine didn't want me to go," Howard said. "I told her, 'Mommy will see you when I get off."

Howard testified that when Bellamy came to pick her up from work, Jaz'mine was not in the car and her father would not say where she was.

"He told me there had been an accident and I started to panic," Howard said. "He said he had been drinking and had fallen asleep, and when he woke up he found her in the bathtub drowned."

Howard said she kept asking where the child was and Bellamy told her that he had taken her to Arlington Memorial Hospital, but that because he had been drinking, he did not get out of the car. Howard said she could not smell any alcohol.

"At that point he was talking about suicide," Howard said. "Pulling up to his mom's house, he is apologizing, saying he's sorry. Then he told me that Jaz'mine was in the trunk of my car. Charles said, 'She's dead,' and I was yelling, 'Call 911! Jaz'mine's in my trunk!' "

Howard said Bellamy's mother and brother were performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Jaz'mine while Bellamy went into the house. When he came back outside, he had his mother's keys, Howard said. Bellamy drove off in his mother's car as the paramedics arrived, Howard said.

When she next saw her daughter, Jaz'mine was naked and wrapped in a sheet in the trunk of her car, Howard testified.

"I was in the middle of the yard kicking and screaming," Howard said. "I didn't know what to do at that point."

Howard told the jury she believed that her daughter had drowned until she saw the burn marks on her body.

"I dropped," Howard said. "It made me sick."

Howard testified Bellamy turned himself into authorities on March 22, the day of Jaz'mine's funeral.

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752

Twitter: @mitchmitchel3