LA MARQUE — The chaos that ensued after a woman found her elderly mother in a pool of blood highlighted testimony Thursday at the capital murder trial of a teenage boy.

Deborah Tagle testified about how she and her young son discovered the body of Vaneeda Wright, 84, and that she recognized the defendant, Jor’Dan Jacqueinn Maurice Lewis, from when he lived in the neighborhood.

Lewis, then 14, was accused of stabbing Wright 28 times in her home on Prune Street in La Marque on May 29, 2011. A butcher knife was left embedded in Wright’s cheek.

Lewis, now 16, is possibly the youngest defendant ever certified in Galveston County to stand trial as an adult in a capital murder case.

Tagle testified she would frequently go with her son, then 11, to Wright’s house to care for her, as her mother was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Lewis was among two children her son would play with while visiting his grandmother.

Paul Handy, Wright’s neighbor, testified Tuesday that on the day Wright was found dead, he saw Lewis walk to Wright’s door, but he didn’t see him enter the house. 

 

‘Hit a lick’

Kim Jackson, 25, testified Wednesday she had sex with Lewis two days before he mentioned needing a ride to “hit a lick.”

La Marque police Sgt. Shawn Spruill testified Thursday that the phrase is slang for robbery or burglary.

Jackson testified she went to Wright’s house with Lewis in a car driven by Travis Mills, 22, and that Lewis returned to the car with a pillowcase of jewelry. Mills awaits trial on charges of aggravated robbery and tampering with evidence.

When Tagle and her son went to Wright’s house, they found her front door unlocked, which was unusual. They found Wright’s body in the kitchen.

“I saw my mother on the floor in a pool of blood,” Tagle said.

Tagle’s son screamed and ran from the house to a neighbor’s home. 

“I screamed, ‘Mother!” Tagle said. “I threw my purse someplace — I don’t know where. I ran over to her and felt her wrist, and it was cold and it was stiff. There was blood all over the place.”

 

‘I was hysterical’

Tagle tried Wright’s house phone but then realized it wasn’t working, as it had been broken for a while. She ran to a house next door, seeking help from Wright’s neighbor.

“I was hysterical,” Wright said. “I was beating and beating and beating. He didn’t come to the door right away.”

Tagle then ran to her car and called police from her cellphone. 

La Marque police and the sheriff’s office investigated. Sheriff’s office investigator Michael Bell testified he dusted throughout Wright’s home but found just one print, a palm print, on the face of a floor cabinet directly above Wright’s body.

The print was a match for Lewis, Prosecutor Kevin Petroff said. Tagle testified when Lewis came to Wright’s house to play with her son, Lewis would wait in the dining room and never went in other areas of the house while she was there.

 

Finding Lewis

Spruill also testified Thursday that an officer contacted Lewis’ relatives, and a family member brought Lewis to the police station the day after the homicide.

Yolanda Davis, 22, of Texas City was the last witness to testify Thursday. She said Lewis brought her jewelry, but she wouldn’t have a relationship with him. Lewis was too young, Davis said. After hearing of the killing, Davis gave the jewelry to La Marque police.

Tagle testified she recognized some of the jewelry La Marque police recovered in the case belonged to her mother.

Testimony was expected to continue today in the Justice Center’s Constitutional Courtroom on the fourth floor with visiting Judge David Garner presiding over the case that was filed in Galveston’s 405th District Court.

If convicted, Garner would sentence Lewis to life in prison, but Lewis would become eligible for parole after serving 40 years, including time served. Lewis is too young to qualify for the death penalty.

Contact reporter Chris Paschenko at 409-683-5241 or chris.paschenko@galvnews.com.

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(4) comments

Island Bred

I think they forgot to charge Kim Jackson with sexual assault of a child, child endangerment, and a whole slew of other charges. Including investigating the enviorment of any offspring she might have. What a piece of work.

magpie

Margurite I agree with you some charge should be given to Kim Jackson too. She was aware of his age. DA do your job.

Walter Manuel

Magpie and Margurite, both of you are correct!

Let's just see if the DA's office does what should be done or if this too will be swept under the rug like so many other things in the past have been?

JD Arnold

What? This 14 yr old had no parents to supervise him? Why is a 14 yr old allowed to be out for days having sex, doing drugs and committing crimes and no mention of parents. Now that right there should be a crime also.

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