Jury recommends 10-year probation for couple found guilty in baby death

Marquita Johnson, Qwalion Busby found guilty of injury to child by omission

SAN ANTONIOUpdated Thursday at 11:56 a.m.:

A jury on Thursday recommended 10 years probation for the couple.

A judge is scheduled to formally sentence Marquita Johnson, 33, and her husband Qwalion Busby, 36, on March 29.

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After deliberating for about six hours, a jury found a couple guilty of injury to a child by omission.

During closing arguments in the trial of a couple facing injury to a child by omission charges, prosecutors told the jury that they wanted to make one thing clear:

“This is not a witch hunt against people who don’t believe in modern medicine, or who believe in holistic medicine,” prosecutor Kristina Escalona told the jury.

According to testimony, during their trial, the couple, Marquita Johnson, 33, and her husband Qwalion Busby, 36, relied on home remedies to treat their 7-month-old son’s ear infection.

“Any reasonable person seeing those photos, seeing Naeem in the days leading up to his death, would have seen something was wrong,” prosecutor Melissa Saenz said during closing arguments.

Prosecutors said the couple waited too long to seek medical care, but defense attorneys disagreed.

“They timely called (emergency medical services). Was it proper to call (emergency medical services)?” asked defense attorney Demetrio Duarte. 

“Yes,” he replied.

Once the infant arrived at the hospital, the mother, her lawyer said, was cooperative.

“When she was at the hospital, despite anything they were doing at home, she consented to every treatment that was suggested,” attorney Linda Molina said.

During the trial, medical experts testified that the child’s ear infection could have been treated with antibiotics if the couple had sought treatment earlier. The infection, they said, developed into sepsis, a massive infection of the blood stream, which caused his death.

Closing arguments for the punishment phase of this trial are set for Thursday. The couple could face five to 99 years in prison.

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