Fort Worth mother of 7 sentenced for 27 years in prison for child abuse

Posted Friday, Apr. 12, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH -- A jury sentenced a 33-year-old mother of seven to 27 years in prison for child abuse on Friday.

April Chavunne Brown of Fort Worth was convicted of severely beating her six-year-old daughter over a long period of time, causing her traumatic brain injuries, bruising and broken teeth and bones. Brown, who had seven children with five different men, was pregnant at the time of her arrest, according to an official with the Tarrant County district attorney's office.

Brown's baby, now six months old, was born while she was still in jail, said Rainey Webb, one of two Tarrant County prosecutors who tried the case. . Brown's six other children, ranging up to 13 years old, are either living with relatives or are in foster care, Webb said. Brown never had contact with her new baby, who went directly into foster care, Webb said.

Brown was not working and was staying home to take care of her children, Webb said. Brown supported herself with government subsidies and relatives helped pay her rent, Webb said.

"Her relatives were angry with her when this came to light," Webb said. "They reached out to her and tried to help her. They offered to take the kids off her hands when she got overwhelmed and she just turned her back on them."

Brown's six-year-old girl, named Samaiya, was taken to the hospital on April 21, 2012, after suffering seizures for at least a month, according to the Tarrant County district attorney's office. The child was blinded, developmentally disabled and now lives in foster care. Brown pulled Samaiya out of school in November 2011 when she started missing school, Webb said. No one was allowed to visit the house so no one was aware of the abuse, Webb said. When Samaiya arrived at Cook Children's Medical Center, she had swollen black eyes, broken front teeth, a gash on her chin and bruises all over her body, according to a news release from the Tarrant County district attorney's office. Brown told officials her daughter had been having seizures and her injuries were caused by falling down.

"Samaiya will always be blind and she will always be developmentally delayed," Webb said. "She has permanent brain damage."

A team of doctors conducted tests that showed Samaiya was malnourished and had traumatic brain injuries. She also had numerous broken or fractured bones in various stages of healing, scars on her back and bed sores, injuries indicative of long-term child abuse, according to the district attorney's office.

Samaiya was hospitalized for more than a month, the release said. Brown told police she used a wooden paddle and belt to discipline Samaiya but denied beating or abusing her. Police recovered an aluminum baseball bat and a co-axial cable outside Samaiya's room after executing a search warrant at Brown's house, the release said. DNA tests revealed Samaiya's blood on the bat and cord.

Brown was investigated years earlier after abuse allegations surfaced concerning her oldest daughter, according to Marissa Gonzales, a spokeswoman with Child Protective Services. Brown took the stand during the punishment phase of the trial and the jury heard about her history with Child Protective Services and that she was accused of abusing her oldest daughter. Brown told police Samaiya was a hateful child who didn't show her the same affection as her other children.

"This was a difficult case because I believe she used these children to meet her emotional needs and when they did not meet her emotional needs she abused them," Webb said. "When they reached some emotional independence, she abused them. Brown told police that Samaiya didn't love me like the other children loved me. But children are not in our lives to meet our emotional needs."

The case was tried this week in state District Judge Robb Catalano's court. Fred Cummings is listed as the attorney who defended Brown, according to records from the Tarrant County district clerk's office. Brown will have to serve half of her prison sentence before becoming eligible for parole, Webb said.

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752

Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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