Alexis Botello repeatedly testified in court last week that her boyfriend Joshua Beard, 24, beat and sexually assaulted her during their short relationship.
Court documents filed in April outline an abusive history toward women in the years leading up to Beard’s meeting Botello, and her baby, Tylea Moore. Beard was found guilty of murder in April for the stomping death of Tylea on July 4, 2014, when the baby was 18 months old.
Botello, 21, was found guilty of capital murder on Friday in Tylea’s death. Prosecutors said their case wasn’t built on Botello’s physically harming her child — there’s no evidence of that — but on the premise that as a mother, Botello had a legal duty to protect her child. Botello didn’t call for medical help after her daughter stopped breathing. She was 17 at the time.
Botello’s attorney used a duress defense — which is meant to operate in favor of a person accused of a crime because they say they were forced to act as they did because of threats by another person.
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“She did everything she could to save that child,” defense attorney J. Warren St. John said Monday. “She was overcome by (Beard’s) will and him being overpowering to her.”
He said in court that Beard would use beating Tylea as a way to control Botello, and that Botello would allow him to sexually and physically assault her to keep Tylea safe.
The abuse Beard inflicted on Botello mirrors how he abused two girlfriends prior to meeting her, according to a court document filed during his trial earlier this year.
The document, which was filed as an intent to introduce evidence, says that:
- While in high schools in Texas and Florida from 2008 to 2010, Beard was placed in different behavioral skills classes and received on-campus suspensions for breaking various school rules. He told a counselor that when he and his girlfriend were mad at each other, he “almost shuts down.”
Sometime In 2010, Beard kicked his girlfriend’s dog when she didn’t do what he wanted. He also told her that if they ever had a baby, he would “make the baby do what he wanted to.”
- Beard physically abused another girl he was dating between the summer of 2012 and winter of 2013. He held her down and raped her. He told her he didn’t care if she started crying, but that it turned him off. He also threatened to burn her house down and hurt her family.
- In a different incident, he broke the girl’s phone and pulled a knife on her. He put her in an “MMA fighting lock,” sat on her and told her she should kill herself. He would not allow her to wear makeup or have friends.
- In October 2012, Beard dragged the same girl off her school bus and punched her and yelled at her.
- On May 21, 2014, Beard sent a text message to Botello that insulted her mother. He told her family via text message the next day, “I hope yall know that once Alexis is out ot he [sic] house yall aren’t going to see her or Tylea for a long (explicative) time. So keep it up.” He also sent Botello a text that day that said she needed to “train Tylea” and that Botello had one week to “shape (Tylea) up.”
- In 2014, he threatened to “whip Tylea’s (explicative).” He got upset when she jumped around on the bed. He picked her up “like a sack of potatoes.”
- On July 4, 2014, Beard told an ex-girlfriend that he hated Tylea and Botello. He drove Botello’s car that morning and told the woman that he and Botello were breaking up. He beat Tylea to death that day.
- Between November 2014 and April 2017, while incarcerated, Beard was brought in front of the jail disciplinary committee for violating various jail policies — including harassing officers and being verbally disrespectful and aggressive toward them. Jailers testified during his sentencing hearing that he hasn’t shown remorse for killing Tylea.
As the women mentioned above testified during Beard’s sentencing hearing earlier this year, he shook his head as if to deny the testimony.
St. John, Botello’s attorney, filed an appeal on Friday and said he disagrees with the jury’s decision to convict Botello.
“Our defense was that she was physically and sexually abused by Beard,” he said. “He threatened to kill my client or her family if she ever did (leave). In her 17-year-old mind, she thought he would hurt her. He had similar situations where he abused and sexually assaulted two other girls. Thankfully they didn’t have a child he could hurt.”
Prosecutor Melinda Westmoreland counter-argued that Botello had time to flee before that day — such as when Beard worked out for two to three hours. Botello’s mother testified that she asked her daughter not to move in with Beard and offered multiple times to care for Tylea, but Botello never took her up on that offer.
At the time of her arrest, Tylea’s father, Christopher Moore, told reporters that he hoped it would be realized that Botello was in an abusive relationship. The Star-Telegram tried reaching out to Moore on Monday but was unsuccessful.
Because of her age at the time of the crime, Botello was given an automatic life sentence at trial with the possibility for parole after 30 years, St. John said.