HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A judge has raised the bond amounts for a mother in jail on charges after three children were found abandoned in an apartment with the remains of their 8-year-old brother.
Gloria Williams, 35, appeared in court Friday morning where bond on aggravated assault to a child was raised to $1 million. Along with the other charges she faces, her bonds now total just over $1.5 million. That's an increase over the original bond amounts totaled $900,000.
Earlier this week, a judge called her bond "insufficient." On Friday, prosecutors argued for that higher bond. Williams' defense attorney, Neal Davis III, wanted it lowered, saying he believes $900,000 "isn't reasonable."
Williams is accused of abandoning her three sons in a west Houston apartment, leaving them to live with the decaying body of their dead brother, Kendrick Lee.
Court records show the boys told Harris County Sheriff's Office investigators they watched as Williams' boyfriend, Brian Coulter, beat Kendrick to death last November. His body was then left to skeletonize inside the apartment on Green Crest for almost a year.
Investigators believe the boys were largely left to fend for themselves. The oldest boy, a 15-year-old, finally called 911 for help on Oct. 24.
That's when authorities found him along with a 10-year-old and a 7-year-old. Williams also has two daughters who were not in the apartment.
In court Friday, prosecutors said Williams was receiving government aid for two children including Kendrick, who had learning disabilities. She was also receiving additional assistance for the older daughter. Williams was getting about $2,000 a month total in assistance for her children.
"I am satisfied," said prosecutor Andrea Beall. "We can't seek no bond, and I believe the judge takes public safety into factor because this is such an egregious case."
"We knew the judge was going to raise the bond," said Williams' appointed defense attorney Neal Davis.
He says he has only spoken to his new client several times, but admits the public's perception of what allegedly happened will be hard to overcome.
"She is the mother, and I'm not going to be able to paint right now any other picture than what's perceived by the public," Davis said. "Just from the basic facts of the case."
"This is a crucial time in these kids' lives right now, as to whether they're going to do well or not," said Mike Schneider, a retired district court judge and former prosecutor who, over 23 years, mostly dealt with CPS and juvenile cases.
Williams' surviving three sons likely first went to an emergency shelter, Schneider says, as CPS is now looking for a more permanent placement.
"Ideally, you want to look for relatives or what's called 'fictive kin,' people might have had a long relationship with these kids," said Schneider. "Unfortunately, there's going to be a lot of scrutiny on anyone who claims to be a relative or friend of these kids, because the first question will be, 'Where were you?' The second thing that's extremely important is to keep these kids together, if at all possible."
Melissa Lanford, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, spoke with ABC13.
"I know public interest in this case remains very high. I can only say the children are in foster care and continue to receive the services they need to heal," said Lanford.
"I've seen kids who've endured some of the worst abuse and neglect who have remarkable success stories," Schneider added.
Coulter is charged with murder and remains in jail on a $1 million bond. He is expected back in court on Dec. 15.
Prosecutors said the apartment Williams and Coulter were living in was fully furnished.
Meanwhile, the apartment the boys were living in, just 15 minutes from where Williams was, had nothing.
Also on Friday, family members of Daryl Wayne Towner, Williams' husband who died, spoke to ABC13 and shared how Towner loved those kids like they were his own.
Towner's sister, Carol, said her brother met Williams at a homeless shelter in Houston after his release from prison. They said Williams was staying at the shelter with four of her children, including Kendrick.
It was unclear what year they met, but the two were married by Oct. 2017.
Carol said Towner would see Williams and the boys consistently at a local McDonald's.
"He said he felt bad because the kids were hungry, so he kept feeding them," Carol said. "I guess they kind of got together by accident, but he told us he fell in love with those kids."
Towner grew ill and died in 2019, but family says he was very involved in all four children's lives.
WATCH: Family tied to Houston mom who abandoned 3 kids with son's corpse speak out
"They were always at the park. They were always throwing a barbecue. Always well nourished, dressed nicely," said Carol.
For these reasons, Carol said she was shocked when she saw Williams' picture on the news.
"Wayne cared for and loved all four of Ms. Williams' children, as if they were his own," said Jennine Hovell-Cox, the attorney for Wayne's sister, Carolyn Towner. "As a result of the family bonds that Wayne formed with Ms. Williams' children, that family bond extended to Wayne's family members as well, including Carolyn and Kayla Towner."
While Towner was supposed to be recovering from some strokes, Carol said he left the hospital early so that he could make sure to take the boys to school.
"He didn't have to take that on, but he did," said Carol.
The Towner family said they are still grieving Kendrick's death, and they pray those responsible are held accountable.
The family said they have tried reaching out to authorities in an attempt to see the surviving boys, but they have not heard back.
"We just want them to see a familiar face," said Carol.