Police say dead 10-year-old denied water

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by REBECCA LOPEZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @rlopezwfaa

WFAA

Posted on August 25, 2011 at 5:36 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 25 at 9:23 PM

DALLAS - Johnathan James, 10, was found dead in his Oak Cliff home on the 5500 block of Elmleaf Court about one month ago. The suspected cause of death was related to the heat wave, but that changed Thursday.

Dallas police said the boy's father and stepmother are accused of withholding water from the boy as punishment for five days.

Police have arrested the stepmother and father, Tina Alberson and Michael James. They were charged with injury to a child, and if convicted, can result in a prison term of up to 99 years. The bond for each was set at $250,000.

"This occurred over the course of five days, July 20 to July 25," said Dallas Police Department Deputy Chief Craig Miller. "It was during this time, as a form of punishment, that the child was denied water, which [resulted] in the dehydration."

Police said the couple would make Johnathan stand in one place as a form of punishment and deny him water. When they realized his body was shutting down, they called paramedics and moved the boy into a bathtub, but it was too late. Johnathan was taken to Charlton Methodist Hospital, where he died.

Dallas Fire and Rescue originally responded to the call one month ago and thought it was heat-related, as the family only had window air conditioning units. But investigators began interviewing family members and other children in the house, including Jonathan's twin brother.

This week, the medical examiner ruled James' cause of death to be dehydration.

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com

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