SMITH COUNTY - The 12th Court of Appeals in Smith County acquitted two Tyler grandparents sentenced in 2012 for scalding their granddaughter's legs and feet.
Kenneth Walker and Shelley Walker were arrested in March 2012, accused of scalding their 2-year-old granddaughter's legs and feet. The girl sustained second-degree burns, and during the trial, experts testified that the child would have to have been held in about 135 degree water for at least 10 seconds to receive the burns consistent with her injuries.
Kenneth and Shelley were convicted and each sentenced to 25 years in prison for injury to a child causing serious bodily injury. Both appealed the conviction, stating that "the jury's conclusion that they intentionally immersed Bridget's feet in the hot water is based on the drawing of multiple unreasonable inferences and is thus to speculative to give rise to any criminal liability in this case."
The court found sufficient evidence for acquittal, stating:
Because we conclude that the evidence in this case can rationally be said to establish nothing more than a mere suspicion of wrongdoing by appellants, the evidence is insufficient to prove that either appellant engaged in the conduct at issue in this case–namely intentionally immersing [child] in hot water. Therefore, we hold that no reasonable trier of fact could have found all the elements of the offense of injury to a child beyond a reasonable doubt. We also hold that, given that the evidence fails to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the commission of any criminal conduct by either appellant, the convictions may not be reformed to any lesser-included offense. We therefore reverse the judgments of the court of appeals and render judgments of acquittal.
Of the nine judges, six joined the opinion and three gave "concurring and dissenting" opinions.
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