Last week, a Taylor woman received her prison sentence after she was convicted of causing brain injuries to a 10-month old child at a home daycare.
On Friday, Jan. 31, Tempest Coulter, 30, of Taylor, was sentenced to 14 years in prison. In June 2017, Coulter, who then operated a daycare center, admitted to detectives that she injured 10-month old Asher Richter. There was allegedly probable cause to believe that Coulter caused serious bodily injury to a 10-month-old boy by shaking the boy with her hands.
She was arrested July 6, 2017, and charged with injury to a child, a first-degree felony. The case came to an end Friday after the sentencing.
Kelly Richter, Asher's mother, said the three-year process has been tough on the family aside from what happened in the courtroom.
"It's been pretty difficult," Richter said about the last three years. "Besides dealing with Asher's injury and healing alone, dealing with the people and accusations is probably the hardest thing that we've had to do throughout this whole thing."
Coulter faced up to 99 years in prison for the first-degree felony. According to a report in the Austin American-Statesman, prosecutors asked for at least 15 years, which they considered the length of Asher's childhood that Coulter had taken away from him.
"The fact that she got 14 years, me and my husband felt that it was fair," Richter said. "We didn't take her into consideration. We took her children into consideration. We thought about their well-being, them growing up without a mom, especially her daughters."
Richter said that was an important part of the discussion with the district attorneys.
"Yes, my son has a life sentence. As for our own hearts, we couldn't deal with the fact of knowing that there are children out there without their mother," she said.
Defense attorney Todd Dudley asked the jury to give Coulter a lesser sentence saying she is a “wonderful wife, mother and daughter” except for the mistake she made for a few seconds with the baby.
Coulter’s family members felt the court’s decision was unfair and ridiculous because she had never been in trouble before. According to Coulter’s family, “everything that has been investigated about her has come back clear.”
Richter said it is still difficult to handle everything that has transpired because she and Coulter had been friends for over 20 years.
"This was the state of Texas' decision to pursue the case. They felt the case strong enough to take it to trial and prosecute her for this injury she caused," Richter said. "It has made us very aware of who to trust, and more importantly who really are your friends.”
According to the arrest affidavit, Coulter told Asher’s father that the baby was in a bouncer and began to throw his head back. Coulter said she took him out and he began shaking, so she put him on the floor and called EMS.
The affidavit said Coulter later told police that she was holding Asher while she was cleaning, and he fell and landed in a sitting position and his head snapped backwards.
"We are fighters for our son," Richter said. "We wanted to know what happened just as much as everyone else wanted to know."
Ricther said her son has issues with communication and developmental delay, which means he will always be about six months behind his actual age, and he was not expected to walk and run soon. Richter said he can walk and run but does have right arm paralysis.
"It is very difficult for him to do normal things like getting dressed or holding cups or holding toys," she said. "This is a life sentence for him, so regardless of whatever anyone was sentenced to, he’s going to forever have this for the rest of his life."
She said her son is a fighter and he has overcome obstacles that some doctors did not think he could surpass.
"He will continue to go through this until he is an adult. Shaking baby syndrome is a real thing," Richter said. "It's not a made-up science, it's a real thing and there are consequences for every action you take."