HOUSTON – A mother, who is a Harris County jailer, and her husband are accused of committing heinous acts of abuse against her young son for common mistakes made by children.
On September 7, Tawatha Chernice Lamark’s 9-year-old was rushed to the hospital by his uncle, who found the boy severely bruised and suffering from what appeared to be a broken arm, according to court documents.
The little boy said that his mother beat him with a metal bathroom rod because he accidentally wet the bed. In fact, she hit him so hard with the rod, it bent and he could not move his arm after it was all over.
He said his mother often hit him with belts and extension cords, even punching him in the face at times.
The boy’s younger brother told investigators that he was the one who told that his brother wet the bed. He said at first his mother was spanking his brother with a belt, but the boy kept putting his hands up, so she grabbed the “pole that you put your towels on” and started hitting him on the bottom. He said his brother was trying to block that with his hands, too, which is when he got hit in the arm and “got a big bump.”
The boys’ uncle found the children home alone the next afternoon, which he said was not unusual. That is when he learned about the spanking and saw the damage to the arm. He said the arm had a nasty purple bruise and a lump with possibly a bone sticking up. He rushed the boy to St. Joseph’s Hospital for medical attention.
Investigators questioned Lamark to hear her version of the story.
Lamark said she began whipping the boy around 2 a.m. after realizing that he wet the bed. Lamark stated that she hits hard and “if he puts his hand in the way, that’s his lick,” investigators said. Lamark said she struck her son about 10 to 14 times with her Harris County Jailer Sam Brown Belt, which is a very thick and wide belt used by law enforcement.
Investigators placed a chair against the wall and asked her to demonstrate her spankings for them. She showed how she would rotate the belt and, if it didn’t hit hard enough on one side, she would hit hard enough with the other side. Lamark described her spankings as if they were an open-ended strike, investigators said.
Lamark said she stood directly behind her son while he held on to the bed and, if he moved, then he would get an “extra pop.” She said he was only wearing a shirt during the whipping and that the buckle must have hit his arm.
Investigators began to dig deeper to see what else the boys had endured. They found more disturbing scars and heard horrific stories.
According to court documents, in September 2010, one of Lamark’s sons was only 5 years old when he ate a tiny piece of cake without permission. This enraged her husband, Omar Lewis, who dragged the boy into the bathroom, turned on scalding hot water, then threw him in the tub with his clothes on. The boy said his feet were burned and he saw his own skin fall off and go down the bathtub drain. His brother also saw this, adding that the bruise bubbled up, but no one ever took the injured boy to the hospital. Investigators took pictures of the boy’s feet, which still had visible scars from that day.
Once again, Lamark gave investigators her version of events.
Lamark said she did not know her son was hurt until she made it home from working an 8-hour shift and saw both of his feet bandaged. She said Lewis told her that the boy was accidentally burned when he was taking a bath, but she did not believe he was telling the entire truth.
Lamark admitted that she saw what looked like third-degree burns and the bandages were dirty, but the pus had already come and gone. She decided not to seek any medical attention, but instead, gave the boys some of the cake that started all the trouble.
Investigators then turned to Lewis for answers.
Lewis said that he was caring for the boys alone and woke up to find the boy had, not only ate the piece of cake, but had wet himself. He said he took the boy to the bathroom to give him a bath, but did not notice that the water was too hot. He said the boy stepped into the hot water on his own and burned himself, but he did not think it was “that bad.” Lewis said it took about a month for his stepson to heal, according to court documents.
Doctors at Memorial Hermann Hospital said the boy was at high risk of infection and increased pain due to lack of medical attention and that the normal course of treatment should have been antibiotics and pain medications.
Lamark was charged with felony injury to a child for what she allegedly did to her son this year and injury to a child by omission for not getting any help for her son in 2010.
She was given at $20,000 combined bond total; $10,000 for each charge.
Lewis was also charged with injury to a child by omission.