HOUSTON (AP) — Attorneys for a woman on trial this week in the capital murder case of a 12-year-old Houston boy who disappeared Christmas Eve 2010 are fighting to have statements she made to investigators suppressed, claiming they were coerced.
Mona Nelson, 47, has pleaded not guilty in the death of Jonathan Foster, a Houston fifth grader. His badly burned body was found stuffed into a culvert.
Nelson has chosen to have state District Judge Jeannine Barr instead of a jury decide her case. If convicted, Nelson faces an automatic life sentence without parole.
The Houston Chronicle reported (http://bit.ly/148uoaW ) that Nelson on Tuesday testified she never felt free to leave when officers questioned her for hours before her arrest.
"They would say you are free to go if you want to," Nelson said, adding that when she moved toward the door investigators would say "hold on, just give us a few more minutes."
Nelson's attorney, Allen Tanner, has said his client was sick and exhausted after hours of interrogation.
While questioned by a prosecutor, Nelson admitted that she eventually agreed to provide police with most of the statements. Nelson said she did it because she wanted to get home and go to a doctor.
Prosecutors have said that when Nelson was ultimately examined by doctors, they failed to find anything seriously wrong with her.
At one point, Nelson turned tearful when her defense attorney asked about her overhearing police describe how Foster's body was terribly burned and that neither of his parents wanted him.
Investigators said they believe Nelson, a maintenance worker with welding expertise, took the child to her home, killed him and burned the body. Nelson has several prior convictions, including one for aggravated robbery.
Authorities say they have never been able to determine a motive in the case.
Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com