Gainesville Man Sentenced To Life In Child Death Case - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Gainesville Man Sentenced To Life In Child Death Case

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GAINESVILLE, TX -- The punishment is in for a Cooke County man accused of not helping a little boy with burns over 60 percent his body.

A jury returned the maximum sentence today for a Gainesville man they convicted of injury to a child, and this charge was enhanced because of his prior record of the same crime.

Prosecutors still don't know exactly how the boy was burned, and say the defendant wanted to make sure no one would ever find out.

A few minutes after going in to deliberate around 9:30 a.m. on Friday, the jury of seven women and five men asked to see the photos of 4-year-old Nathan De Alejandro's burns.

They also wanted the record and photos from 30-year-old Johnny Earl Alexander's prior conviction involving a bitten and bruised two-year-old.  About 35 minutes later, they came back with a life sentence.

"It hurts just like it hurt when Catrina got life regardless they're both human beings," says sister Claudia Alexander.

Johnny Earl Alexander was released after serving most of an 8-year prison sentence on October 21, 2010. Police say the burns happened on September 10, 2011.

"Immediately when he pulled him out of the bathtub, he called the mother and advised the mother of what had happened and the mother said, 'I'll be home in a minute. Don't do anything,'" says Alexander's attorney Bob Jarvis.

"We called her and she testified that he pulled a gun on her and prevented her from ever getting help for the child," says District Attorney Janice Warder.

Police say 11 days after the burns, on September 20, 2011, Nathan was wrapped in sheets to conceal his wounds and taken away by Alexander's parents, Matilde and Johnny, during a drug raid at the home.

Officers were not called until September 24, 2011 - day 14 - the day that Nathan died.

"Why did they let it get that far you know Nate Nate could still be here," says Claudia Alexander.

"This may well have been a case of acid burning, but it's not an accidental acid burning," says Warder.

"The child said and the witnesses say that he was burned in the bath tub from the hot water," says Jarvis.

In punishment closing arguments, the defense argued that Johnny Earl Alexander only had sole custody of Nathan for five hours and that there was no motive or evidence how the burns happened.

But the prosecution called Johnny Earl Alexander a "sadistic torturer," saying that Nathan was likely too scared to tell his mother, Catrina Maldonado, what happened.

"When johnny Alexander purposely burned this child, he determined that no authorities would ever see his handiwork and so he prevented the child from ever getting medical care," says Warder.

"They're supposed to try him on whether or not he had the care custody and control and the authority to get medical treatment for Nathan, but instead we ended up talking about how Nathan got burned," says Jarvis.

"He and my daughter Catrina both were not any better than the other. They were both at fault for not taking action, because they both lived as a family in that home," says the victim's maternal grandmother Debbie Ramirez.

Now, with Alexander behind bars, family members try to move forward again. "There's not a one of us if they hadn't dialed our number that we wouldn't have been there in five seconds," says Ramirez.

Alexander is also facing a murder charge. No decision yet if that case will continue. He will get credit for more than two years he's been sitting in jail, and was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

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MIDDAY UPDATE -- After about 30 minutes of deliberation, a jury recommended the maximum sentence of life in prison and a $10,000 fine for Johnny Earl Alexander, 30, who they had found guilty of injury to a child on Thursday.

Judge Janelle Haverkamp then formally sentenced Alexander and he was remanded to the custody of the Cooke County Sheriff's Office.

Alexander has already been in prison for more than two years and will receive credit for time served. The mother of Nathan De Alejandro, 4, received a life sentence last fall in connection with Nathan's death.

More details later today on KTEN News and KTEN.com.