After almost eight hours of deliberation, an eight-woman, four-man jury found a 29-year-old Palestine man guilty of capital murder and injury to a child on Monday for the death of a 2-year-old child that occurred in 2011.
Billy Wayne Hasel was issued an automatic sentence of life without parole for the capital murder charge, and sentenced to 20 years for the injury to a child charge (an irrelevant sentence due to the capital murder charge).
The trial began on Monday, March 24 with the selection of a jury; and evidence being heard beginning Tuesday, March 25.
According to Anderson County District Attorney Doug Lowe, reporting on testimony during the trial, at about 4:30 a.m. on Sept. 1, 2011, EMS dispatch received a direct call from the defendant stating that a young child, his stepson Deacon Garay, 2, had fallen backwards, hit his head on the floor and was passed out and having seizures.
EMS arrived on the scene — Woodside Village Apartments on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, at about 4:55 a.m., finding that the child was already “posturing” and his pupils had “blown,” indicating severe brain damage.
Palestine Police Department Officer Marcos Lara was dispatched to the scene, and saw no evidence of a struggle or crime but remained at the scene until the ambulance left, transporting the young victim to Palestine Regional Medical Center.
At the hospital, physicians did a CT scan and determined that the victim had undergone massive brain trauma. He was soon after transported to Children's Medical Center in Dallas for further treatment.
“At Children's, the child's brain was already so swollen that they had to remove a portion of his skull to release the pressure,” Lowe said. “They determined that he was not going to make it and declared him brain dead.”
The child was kept alive on life support until Sept. 8 for further monitoring and for organ donation.