Former Houston dentist gets 5-year probation after being convicted in 2016 botched surgery on child

The then-4-year-old Naveah Hall was left with permanent brain damage and can no longer see, speak, walk, or eat on her own.

Courtney Carpenter Image
Thursday, September 14, 2023
Former dentist to be sentenced for 2016 botched surgery on 4-year-old
Former dentist Bethaniel Jefferson is set to be sentenced for a 2016 botched surgery that left then-4-year-old Naveah Hall with permanent brain damage.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The punishment phase concluded Thursday for a former Houston-area dentist in the botched surgery that changed a young girl's life seven years ago.

A jury gave Bethaniel Jefferson a five-year probation sentence after being found guilty of recklessly causing serious bodily injury to a child by omission. This was in connection with a January 2016 procedure that left then-4-year-old Naveah Hall with permanent brain damage.

The child, now 11, can no longer see, speak, walk, or eat on her own and requires around-the-clock medical care after suffering drug-induced seizures and oxygen deprivation during the surgery.

"We were just a normal family, and when it happened, everything just changed," Courissa Clark, Naveah's mom, told ABC13 in 2016. "She used to be full of life. She was very happy, very outgoing. She loved people. She was a people person. Now, to me, she's still the same person. Still love her the same as if she was right, if she was walking around."

Last year, Naveah's family was awarded a $95.5 million settlement as a result of a civil suit that found Jefferson to be responsible. However, the family will never see most of that money because, according to one of the family's attorneys, Jefferson no longer has any money to pay them.

READ MORE: Houston family awarded $95.5M after daughter suffered brain damage during 2016 dental appointment

A Houston-area family was awarded $95.5 million after their then 4-year-old daughter suffered brain damage during a dental procedure in 2016.

Jefferson's medical license was revoked in 2016.

On Thursday, the state brought a witness who testified she worked for Jefferson once in 2009 and again in 2013.

She said Jefferson called her profane words on two occasions and that on the last day she worked at the dental practice, the former dentist cut her with scissors during an argument.

In this case, the punishment phase was similar to a guilt-innocence phase, where both sides make opening and closing statements and put on witnesses.

Jefferson was set to have avoided a 10-year sentence for the five-year punishment.

SEE ORGINAL 2016 REPORT: Child suffers brain damage after visit to dentist

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