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Texas foster parent sentenced to life after killing girl taken by CPS for marijuana usage by parents

Alex and her father Josh right before she died in foster care after CPS took her because her parents smoked marijuana.
Alex and her father Josh right before she died in foster care after CPS took her because her parents smoked marijuana.

A Milam County jury has found Sherill Small guilty of capital murder for the death of her 2-year-old foster daughter, Alexandria Hill, in 2013.

Hill was taken from her parents by CPS after they admitted to consuming marijuana.

Small, 55, was immediately sentenced to life in prison without parole by Judge John Youngblood.

Closing statements were heard Tuesday morning in the 20th District Court in Cameron, where Judge John Youngblood charged the jury with finding a verdict on three possible charges — capital murder, criminally negligent homicide and serious injury to a child.

Assistant District Attorney John Redington told jurors that Small didn’t want to be a foster mom and that it was her sister-in-law’s idea.

“She was not doing this (fostering) for the right reasons. … I think that Sherill Small murdered Alex Hill. Once you look at all the evidence and you listen to your oath as jurors, this case deserves a guilty verdict for capital murder,” Redington said.

Defense attorney Norman Lanford told jurors that Rockdale authorities rushed to judgment in their investigation of Small and by the end, they only had four-and-a-half pages of documents to prove the case.

“As far as the authorities in this county are concerned, you can send somebody to prison for the rest of their life for four pages,” Lanford said.

He also said the prosecution failed to prove that his client caused Alex’s injuries purposefully.

“All you’ve got is an unexplained death and one person in the house when it happened. As far as Rockdale is concerned, if you’re the only one present, then you committed capital murder,” the former district judge said during his closing statement.

The girl’s father, Joshua Hill of Round Rock, spoke with KVUE last year about the incident.

“We got to sit down at McDonalds and have lunch and play for a while,” said Hill. He continued “she got a little ‘Despicable Me 2′ toy in her happy meal and she loved it. She kept climbing up in my lap and she fed me french fries.”

That was the last time he would get to see his daughter Alexandria before he would visit her at the hospital, arriving to find she was in a coma.

Alex was rushed to Rockdale hospital with severe head injuries, then flown to Scott and White Children’s Emergency Hospital in Temple and immediately placed on life support.

She had been living with foster parents since November 2012.

Hill stated “we never hurt our daughter. She was never sick, she was never in the hospital, and she never had any issues until she went into state care.”

For the first two months, Alex was placed in a home that Hill says was dangerous as he claimed “she would come to visitation with bruises on her, and mold and mildew in her bag. It got to a point where I actually told CPS that they would have to have me arrested because I wouldn’t let her go back.”

He said the situation seemed to get better though when she was placed with Sherill Small in Rockdale.

Then Hill was called and told to come to the hospital. Alex was kept on life support and for two days they hoped she would regain consciousness, but she ended up dying.

Rockdale detectives say Small’s explanation didn’t match Alex’s injuries and she was arrested on murder charges. Another child was removed from her after Alex was taken to the hospital.

Hill says he was less than four months away from getting Alex back and now he’ll never get the chance.

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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