Convicted mother's son left with lifelong medical issues
Special needs advocate: ‘I don't know that she understands'
SAN ANTONIO – Pamela Allen listened intently to a foster mother describe the lifelong medical issues facing a 22-month-old boy who as a newborn was found face down in a toilet at a VIA park and ride in 2015.
Having suffered brain damage due to a lack of oxygen, the boy can’t breathe on his own, he has a feeding tube, can’t sit, walk or crawl, among other serious problems, said the foster mother, who is also a pediatric home health nurse.
But she said he can vocalize if she puts a valve at the end of his breathing tube.
“You can hear him laugh or you can hear him cry,” she said.
Convicted Tuesday of injury to a child by omission resulting in serious bodily injury, the boy’s mother, Roseanne Welch, was sentenced to 15 years.
“I don’t know she understands that this is going to be 15 years of her life,” Allen said. “I don’t think she understands the injuries that the child sustained."
As the mother of a special needs son, Allen came to know Welch, who was 25 at the time, soon after she was arrested.
Allen is a special needs advocate and co-founder of Eagles Flights Advocacy and Outreach.
At one point, Allen obtained Welch’s school records, which Allen said showed she was in the special education program “from elementary school to junior high to high school.”
“I think 15 years is very harsh. I think the life sentence she put on her son is very harsh,” Allen said.
District Attorney Nico LaHood, the father of a special needs child himself, said Welch had intellectual challenges and learning disabilities.
However, his prosecutors determined Welch had “functional intelligence.”
“We know she lied multiple times to cover this up and that tells me and others that she knew the difference between right and wrong,” LaHood said. “That’s my gauge there.”
He also said Welch was found to be competent and sane at the time she gave birth then abandoned the newborn.
LaHood said taking into account Welch’s mental capacity, instead of facing five years to life in prison for the first degree felony, she was allowed to apply for community supervision despite objections by prosecutors. But the judge gave her 15 years behind bars.
“A cap of 15 was more than just under the circumstances,” LaHood said.
Allen said she isn’t trying to justify any of Welch’s actions.
She said some will say, “‘Look at what she did to this baby. She deserves everything she gets.’ I understand that. I’ve buried babies who’ve been abandoned and abused. I understand that feeling, but there is a story behind this mother as well.”
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