01/17/2013 04:06 pm ET Updated Jan 18, 2013

Tina Alberson Admits She Withheld Water From Stepson Jonathan James, Who Died From Dehydration

A woman accused of killing her stepson by withholding water from him for days heard the boy's father -- her husband -- blame her for his death on the Dallas trial's first day.

In July 2011, 10-year-old Jonathan James died from dehydration after days of thirst -- a punishment allegedly handed down for bed-wetting and stealing guitar strings from his twin brother.

Tina Alberson faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree felony injury to a child. Her husband faces the same charges in a separate trial, but he holds her responsible.

"I felt like she was the one responsible for him ending up the way he did," said Michael Ray James, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Prosecutors argue that Jonathan suffered an agonizing death as he went thirsty for days during a searing hot summer. He was forced to stand in one place in the kitchen as temperatures regularly hit more than 100 degrees and had to hold a sack of potatoes above his head, according to a police interrogation.

Alberson, 44, admitted in that recording played on Wednesday that she sometimes wouldn't let James get a drink as punishment for not eating his meals or wetting the bed.

"I obviously did this," Alberson said, according to KDFW. "I didn't mean to do this."

The admission came shortly after Alberson said that Jonathan had had access to water, but she didn't pay attention if he drank it.

However, she also told authorities that James repeatedly asked for water, according to KVUE.

"He always said he was thirsty. He was in time out, and every two minutes he would say, 'I need a drink... I need to go to the bathroom.'"

The boy eventually passed out, at which point Alberson told her husband to call 911.

Jonathan's father testified that during the ride to the hospital, ""I flat out told [Alberson] that if anything happens to my son, I'll never forgive her."

James has significant health problems and is legally blind. He said in court that he didn't know the extent of his son's suffering.

Jonathan and his fraternal twin Joseph were spending a month with their father and stepmom on a court-ordered visit. Joseph was not harmed, but described feeling powerless as his brother collapsed.

"I couldn't do nothing about it because if I said something I would end up getting in trouble, too," he told WFAA in 2011.

Their mother, Krista Bishop, testified about rushing to the emergency room where doctors tried to save her son. After two hours she told them to give up, she said.

“He was pale, no life to him, nothing,” Bishop said, according to Dallas News. “He was just laying there … It was just heartbreaking.”



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