For the third day, Travis County Judge David Wahlberg heard evidence during a pre-trial hearing for the mother accused of having a hand in her son's death last year.
Meagan Work's lawyers are looking to have evidence and the 21 year-old statements. They say Cedar Park police and other law enforcement agencies violated her rights in the first five days of the case. They are alleging that she made the statements
"It is very difficult to sit in there and hear that they want to get that evidence thrown out," says Colton Turner's Great Aunt Diane Battles. She and her sister Kim Vidure, Colton's Grandmother have sat in the front row of the court room throughout the hearing.
Fighting back tears, Diane adds, "Meagan knows what she did, Mike knows what he did, and they need to pay for what they did."
On Wednesday video was shown to the court of an interview between FBI Special Agent Robert Gutierrez and Work. The interview took place at the Cedar Park Police Department, while the search for her son was underway. Gutierrez, like the other officers who have testified, said he was approaching the case "objectively". And because of the stories she had told police about her son's whereabouts, he was looking at it as, "she's a victim mom whose child had been abducted."
Gutierrez also testified that he read Work her Miranda Rights. He said he also asked Work several times if she felt okay or if she needed medical attention, but he said, she declined. And he said she "responded lucidly" to his questions and provided "complete sentences." Work's attorneys argue she was under mental duress, and because of that she wasn't of sound mind to consent to the interviews.
They also allege she was held and questioned for hours without being given a lawyer, that she was sick, and because she was four months pregnant was vomiting. "While she was in an air-conditioned room being offered breakfast tacos and pizza, where was Colton?" Diane argues, "Colton was in a field covered in dirt in a 100+ degree temperatures because of Meagan."
Diane says it's hard to believe the police are coming under fire for the way they handled the case. She says she is grateful for the half dozen agencies who looked for for the child. "Law enforcement spent hours," she says, "It wasn't only Meagan that was in there for 18-24 hours." She adds, "look at the law enforcement that put their families aside for our family, to find Colton."
Another witness to take the stand on Wednesday was Cedar Park Police Lieutenant Thomas Chanse. He was on the team that looked for Colton during the search. It was launched on September 10 after photos of a battered and bruised Colton were turned into the Cedar Park Police Department.
Chanse interviewed Work after Colton's remains had been uncovered on September 12. By that time, Work was booked into the Williamson County Jail on a child abandonment charge.
In his testimony, Chanse described the conversation. He said Work consented to the interview after being read her Miranda rights. He said Work eventually admitted to knowing that Colton was dead. He said she also admitted to holding the child's lifeless body as her boyfriend, Michael Turner, looked for a burial spot, then held a flashlight as the grave was dug. It was an emotional moment in the courtroom for the toddler's family. "A real mother would lay down her own life for her child," Battles says angrily, "a mother would not hold a flashlight while a boyfriend buried her baby, no mother would do that."
The lead investigator on the case, Austin Police Detective Anthony Nelson, was also called to testify. He detailed for the court how Turner had led police to the spot in the field where Colton was buried. He also said Turner told police about what happened. He said when he went to talk to Work about the developments, he let her talk first. "Getting the story was extremely difficult," Nelson told the court, adding "I don't think she was honest with me at all."
The hearing is in recess until August 17. That's when the Defense will call their witness. Then Judge Wahlberg will make a decision about what statements and evidence will be admissible. The case is scheduled for a jury trial in late Fall. Michael Turner is also being held in connection to Colton's death. Though he has not been formally charged, his trial is also set for late Fall.
Though it has been a long and trying year for Colton's family, Battles says they will continue to fight, "We know what she did, she knows what she did, and we are going to trust in God and he's going to bring our family, he is going to bring our Colton justice."