It was a gruesome discovery -- the badly burned body of a 12-year-old boy was found in a ditch in northeast Houston. The woman accused of killing Jonathan Foster is finally on trial for his murder. It's a judge, not a jury, who will decide Mona Nelson's fate.
The state gave no motive in the opening statements. And while none is necessary in trial, it still leaves the mystery of Jonathan's death unanswered.
When Jonathan turned 12, his wish was to go live with his mother and her new husband. A month after coming to Houston in 2010, he was kidnapped, murdered and his burned body dumped in a ditch. The prosecution says it was Mona Nelson who killed him on Christmas Eve.
"We have the defendant taking Jonathan, and between 2:15 and 6:08, she killed him," asserted prosecutor Connie Spence.
Nelson conceded in the past that she dumped the contents of a garbage can from her truck into a drainage ditch, but she says she did it at the request of the Jonathan's stepfather. Inside was the body of the boy, wrapped in carpet. Nelson is pleading not guilty to the capital murder charge.
"Because she dumped the trash can, she must have killed him," said defense attorney Alan Turner. "It's a bandwagon case, and I ask the court to look at each issue that we bring forth with each witness."
Jonathan's mother Angela Davis was the first witness called to the stand. She delivered heart-wrenching testimony in which she spoke of a phone call she received at work on Christmas Eve. A manager said it was from her babysitter, but Jonathan didn't have one. She called and a strange woman answered. She could hear her son in the background and then the line went dead. When David returned to the duplex where she and Jonathan were staying with a friend, no one was home.
"I ran up and down the street banging on doors, standing in the parking lot, hollering my son's name," she testified.
Four days later, her fears were realized when she was told her son's body had been found.
Davis testified, "All I could do was scream. There's a lot I don't remember about that day."
The case is a bench trial. The defendant opted to have the judge decide guilt or innocence. The trial is expected to last two weeks.
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