A Rand man on Tuesday was found to have killed an 8-month-old girl by causing her fatal injuries then failing to get her the proper medical attention last year.
A jury of nine women and three men convicted William Ellis Bowen IV of murder of a child by refusal and failure to supply necessities and death of a child by child abuse shortly before 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Jurors deliberated for about 2 1/2 hours before they determined Bowen was responsible for the death of 8-month-old Lillyann Aubriana Hudson, the daughter of Bowen’s girlfriend at the time.
Under state law, a conviction for murder of a child by refusal or failure to supply necessities is a form of first-degree murder.
The sentence for first-degree murder is life in prison, and jurors on Tuesday recommended Chief Kanawha Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit give Bowen mercy when she hands down his sentence. Mercy in a life sentence means an inmate is eligible to have a hearing before the West Virginia Parole Board after serving 15 years in prison, but they are not guaranteed release from prison at that time.
The sentence for death of a child for child abuse is between 15 years to life in prison, and Tabit likewise will hand down a sentence for that conviction.
Tabit did not schedule a day for Bowen’s sentencing hearing Tuesday.
The verdict capped off about a day and a half of testimony presented that indicated Bowen showed some violent tendencies toward the baby during the months leading up to her death. Bowen had been the only person in close contact with Lillyann Hudson during the 11 hours leading up to her mother discovering her almost lifeless body on June 23, 2018.
Lillyann died on June 25, 2018, at Charleston Area Medical Center Women and Children’s Hospital.
Kanawha Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Miller and Assistant Prosecutor Adam Petry argued that Bowen injured Lillyann Hudson while he was the only person in a room with her during the early morning of June 23, 2018.
“The defendant knew how bad it was when he was locked in the room with the child,” Petry said. “He just didn’t care. He was mad at Chellbie. He was mad at the mother of the child ... and he took it out on the child while he was locked in that room.”
After he injured Lillyann, who suffered substantial head injuries, Bowen did not seek medical care for the baby girl, prosecutors said.
“The only logical conclusion you can draw from the evidence of this case is this defendant caused that child to die — first by inflicting these injuries, then by putting himself before this child and not getting her help,” Miller said. “And for that he should pay.”
Ed Bullman, Bowen’s attorney, said other people were at the trailer where Lillyann Hudson, Bowen, and Lillyann’s mom, Chellbie Hudson were staying, and any of them could have injured the baby.
“No one is disputing that his child was a victim of child abuse,” Bullman said. “What is in dispute is who did it.”
In August, Chellbie Hudson pleaded guilty to child neglect resulting in death as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. One of the conditions of her plea deal was that she testify in Bowen’s trial.
The sentence for child neglect resulting in death is between three and 15 years in prison, plus between $1,000 and $5,000 in fines. She is set to be sentenced on Oct. 15.
Chellbie Hudson was a key witness in the case against Bowen, telling jurors on Monday that Bowen began swaddling her daughter too tight, squeezing her against his chest and forcing formula into the baby’s mouth after they moved into a room in a trailer along Buckeye Lane in St. Albans in April 2018.
Hudson said she’d grown afraid of Bowen after challenging his parenting style for her daughter, and she told police Bowen would take out his anger against Chellbie Hudson on her baby daughter.
Chellbie Hudson testified on Monday that Bowen told her to leave their room after he disapproved of how she was cutting his hair the night of June 22, 2018.
Chellbie Hudson left the bedroom, but she by and large stayed in the trailer and near the room, in case Bowen needed her overnight to care for Lillyann. Chellbie Hudson said she only left the trailer to get cigarettes once and later left to try to sell scrap metal for money for formula for Lillyann between 11:30 a.m. and noon on June 22.
Bowen did not testify during his trial. No one provided testimony as to exactly what happened to Lillyann Hudson while she was locked in the bedroom with Bowen.
Early in the afternoon of June 23, Chellbie Hudson, Bowen, and a couple of other people transported a load of trash to a nearby dumpster, and Lillyann was left with two people who also lived in the trailer, she testified.
It was during that trip that Bullman argued it was possible that someone else had inflicted the ultimately fatal injuries to Lillyann Hudson.
At about 1:15 p.m. June 23, Chellbie Hudson said she and her oldest son attempted to wake her daughter, but she was barely breathing and was “dead weight” when she tried to move her.
After Hudson and Bowen argued, emergency responders were called to the home, and Lillyann was at CAMC Women and Children’s by about 2:30 p.m.
On Tuesday, Dr. Joan Phillips, the pediatrician who treated Lillyann at Women and Children’s, said Lillyann’s brain swelling was too far advanced when she arrived at the hospital for Lillyann to have suffered the injuries just an hour prior, saying it likely happened several hours prior to Lillyann being admitted to the hospital.
West Virginia Chief Medical Examiner Allen Mock on Monday said Lillyann’s cause of death was homicide due to blunt force trauma to her head.
Phillips said that about 85 to 90 percent of the children who suffer the same kind of injuries as Lillyann survive when proper medical care is sought and administered in a timely fashion.
Hudson and Bowen have been incarcerated at South Central Regional Jail since July 2018.