A 28-year-old Mansfield mother was convicted Thursday of not protecting her 2-year-old daughter from an abusive boyfriend, resulting in the child’s debilitating brain injury.
The six-man, six-woman jury — some of whom were tearful at points during the trial — deliberated just over an hour before finding Ryka Telan Hopper guilty of the charge of injury to a child by omission.
In July 2010, her daughter, Ahnnakha, then 2, was injured. The child, now 4, is in a permanent vegetative state and lives in a nursing home for children in East Texas.
Hopper showed no emotion as the verdict was read in 213th State District Court. The maximum sentence on the charge is life in prison.
The boyfriend, Adam Palmer, is awaiting trial on two charges of injury to a child and aggravated assault. He has already served time in state prison for an unrelated beating of another child in 2003.
Prosecutors Eric Nickols and Kelly Meador urged jurors to convict Hopper for failing to seek medical treatment or outside help as the child, called Annie, was repeatedly beaten to the point that she went into cardiac arrest.
“Every day was a nightmare for Annie,” an emotional Meador, who is visibly pregnant, told jurors, pointing at Hopper. “What did she do? She sat by and let Adam Palmer beat her baby.”
Defense attorneys Brett Boone and Brad Shaw told jurors that Hopper was an uneducated woman who was abused physically and emotionally by Palmer.
“There is a despicable, diabolical man out there, and my client fell prey to this man,” Shaw said. “She fell into this man’s trap.”
Hopper took the stand in her own defense Thursday morning to tell a rambling, inconsistent tale that included repeated admissions that she was a liar.
Hopper first told jurors that she was afraid of Palmer, and had tried to leave him repeatedly after he became abusive.By the end of her testimony under cross-examination by Nickols, however, she testified that she and Palmer had frequently concocted stories together.
“Were you lying when you said [to investigators], ‘I knew she had a head injury?’ ” asked Nickols.
“A friend of mine was writing a book,” she responded. “I do have a very vivid imagination.”
Late Thursday, jurors began hearing evidence in the punishment phase of the trial. They saw a 2-minute video of Ahnnakha in her nursing home room. The child appeared rigid and unresponsive, and moved only briefly, as she lay in a bed in a brightly colored pink-and-yellow room.
Some of the jurors closed their eyes and shook their heads as the video was played, and one woman appeared to be in tears.
The trial continues Friday morning. Visiting Judge Phillip Vick is presiding.
Dianna Hunt, 817-390-7084