Man guilty of leaving son with psychotic wife who drowned child

FORT WORTH -- A Mansfield man was convicted Friday of leaving his 1-year-old son alone with his psychotic wife, who drowned the boy because she believed that she was possessed by Satan and her son was the anti-Christ who would be tortured before bringing about the Apocalypse.

A Tarrant County jury deliberated just 32 minutes before convicting Michael Maxon of intentionally abandoning his son on June 30, 2006, placing him in imminent danger of death or injury by leaving him with his wife, Valeria.

The jury will resume Friday afternoon with the punishment phase of the 4-day trial in Criminal District Court No. 2. Maxon, 56, could receive from two to 20 years in prison for the second degree felony. He also is eligible for probation.

According to Maxon’s own testimony Thursday, his wife’s mental problems began in March 2006 when a pediatrician told them that their 9-month-old son, Alex, was developmentally delayed because he could not sit up, hold his head up or crawl. At the doctor’s recommendation, the Maxons took the boy to another pediatrician and a neurologist.

They sought help from a Florida child therapy center, Maxon said. That’s when Valeria began exhibiting signs of mental illness, saying that the baby was dying and that it was her fault, he said.

Valeria continued to cite those beliefs as her husband took her to several doctors and mental hospitals, Maxon said. But her delusions expanded to include her beliefs that her son was the anti-Christ and her husband, sister and herself were possessed, he said.

Despite warnings from relatives and doctors that Valeria should not be left alone with Alex, Maxon said he left to run some errands on June 30. When he returned an hour and a half later, he was met by his wife who told him she had drowned her baby, he said.

Valeria Maxon, then 33, was arrested and charged with capital murder. However, she was acquitted by reason of insanity in 2008 by Judge Wayne Salvant, who ordered her sent to a state mental hospital.

About the same time Michael Maxon was charged with abandoning his son.

Defense attorney Jack Strickland argued that Michael Maxon was tried because prosecutors could not convict the woman who actually drowned the baby. He agreed that Maxon made a poor decision by leaving his son with his wife that day. But he said the hospitals who discharged Valeria Maxon after a few days bear some of of the responsibility for the baby’s death.

“This man has suffered enough,” Strickland said. “He’s lost his child, his wife and everything he has.”

But prosecutors Alana Minton and Alan Levy argued that any reasonable person should have known not to leave the baby with Valeria Maxon, especially someone who had been repeatedly warned not to do so by doctors and relatives.

“His decision not to take Alex with him that day cost him his life,” Minton said.