SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — The trial for a Central Texas man accused of murdering his two year-old in 2018 resumes Tuesday. The day prior, jurors saw video revealing claims of hospital conspiracies, a malevolent stranger in a park, and possibly unknown abuse by a family member.
“We still don’t know who hurt Mason,” said Dazrine Williams in a 2017 video testimony played by the state’s attorneys Monday afternoon. Beside Dazrine, the mother of the deceased boy, is her husband and Mason’s father, Stevie Dwayne Williams.
Stevie faces a capital murder charge regarding the incident that happened July 4, 2018, when police in Kyle, Texas, say they found a significantly bruised two-year-old Mason dead in a hallway at the Williams’ home.
When questioned, detectives report Stevie said “demons” killed his son, according to court records. Dazrine is also facing a capital murder charge.
The testimonial video shown Monday shows Stevie and Dazrine on a porch swing in March 2018, months after Mason was returned to their home. He’d been taken by Child Protective Services nearly a year earlier after the then 1-year-old was hospitalized for severe burns on his body.
The Williamses posted the video on Facebook in March 2018, with both Stevie and Dazrine delivering their version of the 2017 incident.
In the video, Dazrine says the burn incident happened during a fluke bathing event, when a broken water heater and a clogged water pipe caused Mason’s injuries.
The child’s burns were so extensive he was taken to Dell Children’s in Austin for treatment. CPS was immediately called.
But the Williamses say in their testimony that CPS told them their stories lined up and no case would be open. Dazrine and Stevie say they were then surprised when the hospital ordered further testing and forensic examination on Mason — which would have been only necessary if CPS were opening a case.
The Williamses acquiesced to the testing and say they were baffled to learn one of the child’s x-rays showed internal fractures on his ribs, chest and back.
Neither parent said they knew how this could be — Dazrine says the hospital told her the injuries were comparable to injuries a person would get from falling 13 stories or being ejected from a vehicle.
“It felt like a cover-up,” Dazrine says, as the couple explain the hospital kept changing (and increasing) the extent of Mason’s injuries. “Maybe they hurt him. If it was an accident , it was accident… Maybe we’ll find out there were never any fractures and it was all a big lie.”
Through the video, Stevie urges viewers to rely on their faith. The couple say their prayers and beliefs that Mason was “touched by God” helped get them through the difficult time.
But they say something “dark” descended upon their lives after a bizarre incident in a park.
Stevie says he was walking with Mason in a park one day when he heard from behind him, “What a beautiful baby!” Stevie says a woman approached — “she got on top of us, completely” — to fawn over Mason, touching him and telling the parents “what a gift from God he was.”
“Before that, we always tried to give it to God,” Stevie says in the video. “But after that, it’s not easy to just give it to God…It was darkness.”
The alleged event happened sometime before Mason’s death, when Kyle police say Williams blamed a demonic force.
“Something not worldly hurt our babies,” Williams told police.
One of Kyle’s police to report to the incident, Det. Joseph Swonki, testified on Monday. He said Stevie said he “knew for certain demons did it” and gave backstory, saying that the child would stare at walls for long periods of time and that the family had felt an insidious presence often.
Swonki said Williams said they’d even poured holy water on the children.
On Monday, prosecutors questioned pediatrician Dr. Marion Forbes, who gave insights into Mason’s condition after the burn incident. Forbes, who works at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, said she’s spent 30 years, mostly treating victims of abuse.
Forbes told the jury and prosecutors that Mason’s burn injuries were odd, given the story provided to law enforcement.
“I couldn’t seem to make it make sense,” Forbes said before court recessed for the day. She’s expected to finish her testimony on Tuesday. Earlier in the day, prosecutors spoke to a nurse who treated Mason for routine and as-needed appointments over the last year of his life — she said she reported a comment made by Mason’s foster mother that she was concerned about Mason being reunited with the Williamses.
Throughout their personal video testimony, Stevie and Dazrine say they felt the comments made by physicians and law enforcement conflicted with what they’d been told previously. “His injuries changed,” Dazrine says in the video. “Now it was his wrist. Five-to-seven fractures became 11. First they said 1-2. It kept changing.”
State prosecutors asked Det. Swonki directly about the theory of a cover-up on Monday.
“How do we know these x-rays are even Mason’s?” Dazrine asks. “You aren’t questioning people at the hospital. Why not?”
“Detective Swonki, are you involved in a conspiracy [against the Williamses]?” one state attorney posed.
Swonki answered: “No.”
‘Why aren’t you happy?’
Prosecutors reviewed several text messages exchanged between Stevie and Dazrine, both before and after Mason’s death — shedding light on what Stevie may have been feeling in the months before.
In a February 2018 conversation obtained by Swonki, Dazrine questions Stevie about his behavior toward his family, asking: “Why aren’t you happy?”
Stevie responded that he’d lost his job, his kids only ever wanted to be with Dazrine, and that he didn’t know fatherhood “would be like this.” In the texts, the Williamses discuss why Mason wanted to be with Dazrine, with the mother saying “Our kids need us at different times. He comes to me for comfort. If you haven’t noticed, he’s always in pain because of all he’s been through.”
“Doesn’t make it hurt any less,” Stevie texted back.
Dazrine went on to tell Stevie that he was “running away” from his wife and his family because his life didn’t turn out how he thought it would.
Further phone records obtained by Kyle police showed that both Stevie and Dazrine made calls to their parents before calling 911 to report the death about 12 minutes later. Once 911 was called, Dazrine can be heard saying, “My son, my son didn’t wake up from his nap. We can’t get him up.”
Last week, Stevie’s attorney pointed at Dazrine, saying she was responsible for the death.
Additional phone data showed Stevie deleted his Facebook account before police could review it — at a point when Stevie already knew he was being looked at as a suspect in the death, Swonki said.
Stevie’s trial began October 12 in San Marcos and is expected to last about two weeks. The prosecution will likely wrap up with final witnesses on Tuesday.