Shawna Hooey, 33, of Tomball sentenced to 50 years for killing boyfriend's 4-year-old daughter

Shawna Hooey, 33, of Tomball was sentenced to 50 years in prison this week for killing her boyfriend’s 4-year-old daughter in 2019, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced.

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"We have to work together as a community to protect our children who are particularly vulnerable to abuse from violent adults," Ogg said. "We are thankful to the jurors who recognized that this was not a single incident, but a pattern of abuse and rightfully sentenced this woman to spend decades behind bars. "

Hooey was taking care of 4-year-old Jakyzia Alexander along with her own five children when she took the little girl to a 24-hour emergency center on September 7, 2019.

Jakyzia’s father had sole custody of his daughter and worked nights. 

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The little girl began living with Hooey and her children in a four-bedroom home in Tomball after Jakyzia’s father started dating Hooey.

Because of his work schedule, Jakyzia’s father stayed with family members who lived closer to his job and seldom saw his daughter. He did not see her for at least two months before her death, except through video calls.

When Hooey took the girl to the emergency clinic on the day she died, the 4-year-old’s body was already cold. 

Hooey told medical personnel and authorities at least four different stories about what happened to the girl, who had a visible black eye and other injuries.

She said the girl had to be woken up and was taking deep, labored breaths and not acting normally, so Hooey drove her around in a hot car to try to get her to breathe normally. Hooey then drove home, changed clothes, and took Jakyzia’s body to the emergency clinic.

Hooey’s different versions of what happened to the girl included that she ran into a doorknob and another that the girl threw herself against a toilet paper holder in the bathroom. In her accounts, Hooey said the injury happened two days before she took Jakyzia to the emergency room, and that girl had been acting normally since it happened.

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Further examination showed that the girl had signs of repeated past abuse, including fresh injuries, some that were resolved and others that were healed. 

An autopsy showed that Jakyzia died from blunt force trauma to the head. The injury that killed her would have resulted in seizures, vomiting, and dazed reactions almost immediately. 

Witnesses testified that Jakyzia acted normally the day before she was taken to the emergency clinic.

Deputies with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case, and Hooey was later charged with murder.

After nine days of trial, a Harris County jury convicted Hooey of murder and sentenced her to 50 years in prison late Wednesday.

Assistant District Attorney Gilbert Sawtelle, a chief in the Child Fatality Section of the DA’s Office, prosecuted Hooey. He noted that child abusers often work to hide signs of abuse by keeping children away from other adults or dressing them to cover the injuries.

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"Child abuse does happen, and when we see it, we need to call it out and notify the police and child protective services," Sawtelle said. "This girl was wearing long sleeves in the summertime—and if someone had noticed her injuries and intervened, she would probably still be here today."

Hooey must serve at least half of the prison sentence before she will be eligible for parole.