NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodBrazos County


Virginia Adams sentenced to 75 years in prison in the death of her 3-year-old daughter

Eligible for parole in 2048
Posted at 11:18 PM, Apr 01, 2021

BRYAN, TX — After three days of witness testimony in the case against Virginia Adams, a Brazos County jury sentenced the Bryan woman to 75 years in prison.

It was an emotional conclusion to arguments made in the case against Adams, who pleaded guilty to injury of a child on Monday.

On Thursday afternoon after approximately two-and-a-half hours of deliberation, a jury unanimously recommended Adams, who turns 38 on Sunday, spend what could be the rest of her life in prison. She will be eligible for parole in 2048 and does plan to file an appeal.

"Representing Virginia for the past two and a half years, we hoped for a lower number, obviously," defense attorney David Hilburn told KRHD News. "She accepted the responsibility, as we acknowledged earlier in the case.”

In 2018, Adams’ daughter, Rayven Shields, was found buried in Adams’ garden at her Bryan home.

Prior to closing arguments, the jury heard from defense witnesses, including a forensic psychology expert, Dr. John Fabian, who had psychologically evaluated Adams. He determined she had long been suffering from elements of post-traumatic stress, which could affect her emotional processing.

“If you were avoiding those issues and you are emotionally numb to them, basically you depersonalize and detach yourself from this misery," said Dr. Fabian.

Adams' defense team asked for leniency, citing repeated abuse Adams had suffered in life, which they said affected her ability to care for herself and her children. Her lawyers stressed that blame should be shared with authorities for not intervening when Rayven was in danger.

“Virginia did not do her job as Rayven’s mama, but CPS did not do their job as the department of protective services," said Amy Banks, one of Adams' attorneys. "And this baby slipped through the cracks.”

The prosecution asserted that even if Adams’ partner, Patrick Wilson, had been the one to kill Rayven, Adams could have called for help, as she had done when fearing for her own well-being or the well-being of her other children in the past. Wilson was charged with injury to a child and tampering with a corpse but died in April 2020 before standing trial.

The prosecution also noted that Adams had been repeatedly dishonest with police throughout the initial search for Rayven's whereabouts, and said the mother blamed authorities despite any help they offered her.

“Please don’t hold me fully responsible for what happened," said prosecuting attorney Brian Baker, summarizing his interpretation of Adams' thoughts. "I'm not going to take your services, I'm not going to work the program, I'm not going to stop doing cocaine, I'm not going to stop beating my child, but it’s everybody else’s fault.”

Brazos County Assistant District Attorney Jessica Escue told KRHD News that while Adams was not charged with murder or manslaughter, prosecutors knew injury to a child under these circumstances could have still resulted in lifelong imprisonment. The district attorney pursues charges based on what they feel is provable, Escue explained. Additionally, manslaughter could only result in a maximum 20-year sentence.