Weatherford man gets 20 years in plea deal in baby's death

Posted Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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A Weatherford man whose 1-month-old son's skull was "cracked like an eggshell" was sentenced to 20 years in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to a charge of serious bodily injury to a child.

John Paul Webb, 37, initially faced a capital murder charge.

His son, Christian Webb, born Sept. 9, 2010, died the next month at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth from blunt-force trauma to the head and brain, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner's office.

In an interview with the Star-Telegram, Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler said the child's injuries were the worst that he had ever seen.

"The severity of this was just off the scale," Fowler said in that interview.

"If you saw these pictures, you'd just grit your teeth. It took a tremendous blow to the back of that baby's head to crack it like an eggshell."

The Parker County prosecutor who handled the plea said it was "a very challenging case."

"While we believe that Webb was responsible for causing the child's death and other injuries, to have proven this case we would have had to prove that Webb intended to kill the child," prosecutor Robert DuBoise said in a news release.

"Because no one witnessed Webb injure the child, the only way to prove his intent would be circumstantially. To prove his state of mind beyond a reasonable doubt was going to be difficult."

Also, after Webb's arrest, the child's mother, Angelica Joyce Ahern-Webb, made "several statements claiming that John Webb did not kill their child," the news release stated.

"While we understand that the loss of her son and the incarceration of her husband placed enormous stresses upon her, we believe that certain conduct and statements by her would serve to confuse the jury at trial. We've discussed these issues with the mother, and she is fully supportive of a plea bargain in this case."

Before his arrest in October 2010, Webb had been arrested three times on suspicion of family violence. Those cases involved his wife.

Detectives said they believe that Christian was beaten at the family's residence in the 550 block of Wood Hollow Drive in a rural area southwest of Weatherford.

Ahern-Webb called for an ambulance when she found Christian "cold, unresponsive" and with blood on his lips.

Hospital personnel said Christian had "multiple skull fractures, rib fractures, brain swelling and bleeding, a torn frenulum, bleeding in the abdomen, bruising on the face, and bruises on the arms," according to an arrest affidavit.

When sheriff's deputies went to arrest Webb, he held them off briefly before surrendering.

This includes material from Star-Telegram archives.

Domingo Ramirez Jr.,

817-390-7763

Twitter: @mingoramirezjr

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