Tina Alberson Guilty Of Causing Stepson Jonathan James' Dehydration Death

01/19/2013 10:02 am ET

A Dallas woman was found guilty Friday of killing her 10-year-old stepson by denying him water for days as punishment in the brutal summer of 2011.

Tina Alberson, 44, was found guilty of reckless injury to a child, WFAA reports.

It's a lesser charge than what prosecutors wanted, but she nevertheless faces life in prison for the second-degree felony, the Dallas Morning News reports

Prosecutors hoped she'd be found guilty of knowingly causing a child's injury.

A medical examiner concluded there wasn't a drop of urine in the bladder of Jonathan James when he perished. Alberson testified that she sometimes withheld water from James, but only on limited occasions. She said she never thought he could die. She added that no one realized he was sick until the boy collapsed.

During the three-day trial, prosecutors painted Alberson as a severe disciplinarian who forced James to stand in one place for long periods of time and even commanded him to hold a sack of potatoes above his head. They'd said the boy, who was visiting his father and stepmother for a month, was being punished for wetting the bed and taking guitar strings from his brother.

James' twin Joseph, who was also visiting Alberson and his father, testified about seeing his brother endure prolonged punishment. He said James pretended he needed to use the toilet so he could drink water from the faucet in the bathroom.

James' father, Michael Ray James, said he blamed his wife for killing his son. He'll face the same charges as Alberson in an upcoming trial, but he contended that because he's legally blind he didn't understand the extent of his son's suffering.

The jury will return next week to decide a sentence of anywhere from five years to life behind bars, KTVT reported. If it weren't for a 2001 conviction for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, Alberson would face a maximum of 20 years in prison.

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