DALLAS — The stepmother of a 10-year-old boy who died from dehydration in 2011 is now on trial in Dallas.
Jurors on Wednesday heard Tina Alberson — in her own words — admit that she withheld water from her stepson, Jonathan James.
Prosecutors played a tape of Alberson being interrogated by a Dallas police detective. In that recording, she describes a series of punishments that may have led to his death.
DETECTIVE: "So did you restrict fluids?"
ALBERSON: "Yes. I limited it."
Alberson told investigators there were a variety of reasons she didn't give Jonathan water; for instance, if he didn't eat his food at dinner and lunch.
ALBERSON: "Instead of giving him a whole cup, I would give him part of it. I told him, 'You need to eat so much, and then you can have some.'"
She also said she withheld water because Jonathan would wet the bed.
Alberson said she began restricting the boy's water on Friday, August 22, 2011. Throughout that weekend, the boy was forced to stand in one place for long periods of time.
Their home had only one working window air conditioning unit. Over the entire weekend, no one recalls Jonathan drinking anything except for a Coke on Saturday.
On Monday, Alberson said Jonathan kept asking for water.
ALBERSON: "He always said he was thirsty. He was in time out, and every two minutes he would say/ 'I need a drink... I need to go to the bathroom.'"
She described how on Monday night — after a weekend of punishment — Jonathan was placed in a bathtub.
But by then, it was too late.
ALBERSON: "As I turned, I saw his head go back and his eyes had rolled up in his head."
Jonathan was already suffering dehydration. The family called 911 after Jonathan passed out.
At one point during the interrogation, Alberson said Jonathan was forced to hold a five-pound bag of potatoes over his head and stand in one place for long periods of time.
The dead boy's brothers and fathers are expected to testify later in this trial.