Jury starts deliberating in the case of a Texas mom accused of mutilating infant son in 2007

Case of mom accused of mutilating son goes to jury

HOUSTON — Prosecutors on Friday called a Texas mother’s claims that it was not her but the family dog who severed her infant son’s genitals during an attack two years ago “unbelievable” and “ridiculous.”

Katherine Nadal’s defense attorneys, meanwhile, told jurors that prosecutors had no direct proof their client mutilated her son in 2007.

After listening to 1½ hours of closing arguments, the seven woman, five man jury began deliberating late Friday morning. The 28-year-old woman faces up to life in prison if convicted of injury to a child, a first-degree felony.

During the weeklong trial, Nadal claimed it was the family dog, a 6- to 7-pound dachshund named “Shorty,” who attacked her then-5-week-old son, Holden Gothia, in their suburban Houston apartment in March 2007, as she slept next to him. An animal behavior expert testified on behalf of Nadal, saying this was possible.

But during closing arguments, prosecutor Tammy Thomas scoffed at Nadal’s defense claim.

“Their reasonable explanation, are you ready for this? The dog ate the evidence,” she told jurors. “That doesn’t even work for homework anymore. It’s not only unbelievable, it’s ridiculous.”

Prosecutors have said Nadal was high on drugs when she attacked Holden with an unknown sharp instrument. Doctors who examined Holden testified it was not possible for the dog to have caused the injuries.

Thomas said Nadal and Holden’s father, Camden Gothia, got into an argument on night before the attack because Nadal was high on cocaine.

Authorities say Nadal, who has a history of drug abuse and has had prior drug arrests, tested positive for cocaine, methadone and Xanax after the attack.

“Nobody wants to believe a mother did this to her child. Nobody does. We wish it was not true but it is true,” Thomas said.

Holden, who lost half the blood in his then-9-pound body, survived the attack, but the severed body parts were never found.

Skip Cornelius, one of Nadal’s defense attorneys, told jurors his client was not on trial for negligence or using drugs or child endangerment.

“You can conclude she’s a bad mom. She’s on trial for intentionally doing this. Other than their theories, you have no evidence,” he said.

Investigators did not find DNA or blood evidence on any instrument or sharp object they found in the apartment or in the sink or garbage disposal.

Prosecutor Denise Oncken told jurors no DNA evidence or weapon was found because Nadal cleaned the crime scene before authorities arrived.

Cornelius reiterated to jurors it was possible for the dog to have done this, but he also raised the possibility another person could have mutilated Holden, although no evidence of this was presented at trial.

“I don’t know if Shorty did it, but don’t tell me it’s impossible,” Cornelius said.

An animal control officer who examined the dog found no blood in its mouth, on its fur or on its paws, and there were no bloody footprints around the bed where Holden was sleeping.

Holden, now 2, lives with his paternal aunt and her husband, who were given custody after his parents relinquished their rights. His father sees him regularly.

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