Details of abuse in death of East Texas infant revealed in court documents

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TEXARKANA, Texas – Court documents reveal disturbing new details about how a Texarkana man indicted in the death of his girlfriend’s infant son explained the child’s traumatic injuries to investigators.

Joshua Lowe, 28, was indicted on Thursday, October 15 for capital murder, felony murder, and injury to a child in the death of 11-month-old Javontae Neely.

The child died in July, two days after Lowe and Neely’s mother, 24-year-old Christy Wedgeworth, brought him to the CHRISTUS St. Michael’s hospital emergency room while unresponsive.

Doctors found a brain bleed from an injury that had been caused recently, as well as broken ribs and shoulders that showed signs of healing.

The child was also covered in bruises in various stages of healing, according to reports.

Doctors were able to stabilize the child enough so he could be transferred to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, where he died two days later of what was determined to be blunt force trauma to the head.

According to the probable cause affidavit filed by investigators, Lowe told Neely’s mother that her son had choked on a hot dog.

Charges were upgraded against Lowe, who was initially arrested and charged with aggravated assault, following the infant’s death. Wedgeworth was also charged, after admitting that she had seen Lowe abuse both of her children.

“She advised that he had hit Neely in the face on approximately 10 different occasions while wearing boxing gloves,” according to the affidavit filed for Lowe’s arrest. “Lowe had also reset Neeley’s shoulder when the shoulder became separated from the joint and did not seek medical attention.”

During his interview with investigators, Lowe claimed the 11-month-old vomited on him and explained what happened next.

“He dropped Neely to the floor and he landed on his buttocks. Neeley pivoted on his buttocks and fell over backwards, striking his head. Lowe used a doll to demonstrate how he dropped Neeley. He dropped the doll from one to two feet in the air,” investigators said.

Investigators also spoke to Dr. Liza Murray at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, who told them they had found abusive head trauma, subdural hemorrhage, cerebral edema, healing rib fractures (five separate ribs), and bruising (facial, scalp, ear, cheek, chest, back, and extremity). The doctor also told investigators that the infant’s brain was covered in blood and the retinas had hemorrhages, indicative of shaken baby syndrome.

Shaken baby syndrome occurs when an infant is shaken violently back and forth with the head unsupported. As the head is whipped back and forth, the brain becomes injured by impacting the inside of the skull.

Dr. Murray told investigators they also found a separate skull fracture that caused bleeding outside the brain.

“As Dr. Murray explained these injures to me,” TTPD Det. Cliff Harris said in the affidavit, “she advised that they can not be caused by normal falling or even dropping of an infant. She stated that an outside force has to act on the infant to cause acceleration outside of gravity. Dr. Murray’s opinion was that the child had been thrown or slammed to the floor.”

Lowe remains held at the Bi-State Detention Center on $7.6 million bond. Wedgeworth also remains in custody at the Bowie County Correctional Center on $1 million bond, charged with injury to a child with bodily injury by omission and injury to a child with serious bodily injury by omission by knowing about the abuse and doing nothing to report it.

A man who lived with the couple is also charged with intentionally causing bodily injury to a child for hitting Wedgeworth’s young daughter several times with an object after she broke a plant while he was not home, leaving bruises on most of her body. Lennon Davis, 42, was released Aug. 4 from Bi-State jail on $10,000 bond.

(KTAL/KMSS, and Carolyn Roy contributed to this report.)

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