BRYAN, TX — Update: On April 1, the jury unanimously sentenced Virginia Adams to 75 years in prison.
For more on her sentence, click here.
A Bryan woman soon learn her fate after pleading guilty in the death of her toddler.
In 2018, 3-year-old Rayven Shields was found buried in her mother's garden.
Virginia Adams pleaded guilty to injury to a child on Monday, and a Brazos County jury will soon decide her punishment.
Since Monday, several witnesses have testified in the sentencing phase.
On Tuesday, jurors heard from Rayven’s half-sister, Stephanie Hedge, who testified she was concerned after the child was left in Adams’ custody following Ravyen's father's death in 2018.
Hedge was asked about photos of injuries Rayven suffered before her untimely death. When asked whether Rayven experienced visible injuries while under the care of her father, Hedge tearfully responded, "Never."
The prosecution asked pediatrician Dr. Marion Forbes, who consulted on the case for the Bryan Police Department, about some forensic photos as well as autopsy photos.
Dr. Forbes said she believes Rayven died from a blow to her skull. She said she also found as many as 12 rib fractures and other injuries. But, she could not determine who specifically caused Rayven’s fatal injury.
“We have a lot of research, a lot of data, about what causes rib fractures in children," Dr. Forbes testified. "And the ribs are highly flexible bones. They’re actually relatively hard to fracture in young children – much harder to fracture in young children than in adults.”
Adams’ attorneys argued that Adams has taken responsibility for not protecting Rayven from harm, but maintained police did not intervene when signs of danger were present. They also pointed out that Adams herself had been a victim of abuse throughout her life.
The defense called upon experts to discuss how the cycle of abuse could affect someone’s lack of action when facing a violent partner.
"[If you've seen] abused animals on TV, or see them on the street, or hear stories about them, they tend to cower and tend to not have any self autonomy or control over their life," said Dr. Lauren Spitznagle, expert witness from the Sexual Assault Resource Center [SARC]. "And that is the same with survivors of domestic violence.”
Adams' boyfriend, Patrick Wilson, was charged with injury to a child and tampering with a corpse. Wilson died in April 2020 before standing trial.
The sentencing proceeding will continue throughout the day, with jurors expected to begin deliberations after lunch. Adams faces up to 99 years in prison.
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