HOUSTON (AP) — The fate of a woman accused of killing a 12-year-old Houston boy is now in the hands of a judge who began deliberating the case Monday after closing arguments.
Mona Nelson is on trial for capital murder in the 2010 slaying of Jonathan Foster. Authorities say she killed the boy and stuffed his badly burned body in a culvert. He had disappeared that Christmas Eve.
"We'll never know how she killed him," prosecutor Connie Spence said. "The mind reels at the possibilities."
Despite the lack of a motive, Spence said one thing was clear: Nelson "got drunk, and when she gets drunk she gets mean."
She said Nelson burned the boy's body with a torch at her house. Prosecutors produced a surveillance video showing someone in Nelson's truck dumping the body.
Nelson, 47, has confirmed that the truck was hers, but said the child's stepfather had asked her to help dispose of trash — a full garbage can's worth.
Indeed, defense attorney Allen Tanner has suggested that the stepfather had a motive to kill the boy because he had come between him and his wife. The stepfather has denied the allegations.
Tanner said there was no forensic evidence to link Nelson to the child's disappearance or death.
At Nelson's request, state District Judge Jeannine Barr will decide her guilt or innocence rather than a jury. Barr could return her verdict as soon as Tuesday morning.
If convicted, Nelson automatically will be sentenced to life without parole as prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.