AUSTIN, Texas - The Third Court of Appeals has upheld Meagan Work's conviction in connection to the death of her son Colton Turner. In their ruling, the judges said they didn't find any reversible error in the trial court's judgment.
In 2018 Work pled guilty in connection to the death of Colton. Work's boyfriend, Michael Turner, is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence for his role in Colton's death. Michael Turner is not Colton's biological father but called Colton his son.
WHAT HAPPENED TO COLTON TURNER?
The body of 2-year-old Colton Turner was found in a shallow grave in 2014.
Court paperwork reveals that on September 12, 2014, at around 2:30 in the morning, Michael Turner led police to Colton's gravesite in a wooded area off Felter Lane in Southeast Austin.
The investigation started on September 10 when a concerned friend approached Cedar Park Police about Colton's whereabouts. The friend also produced pictures showing the boy had been abused. Police launched an investigation and were able to track down Work.
According to the documents Work gave three different accounts as to where her son was. She told a family friend that Colton was staying with family in East Texas. When questioned by authorities she told them Colton was kidnapped out of her truck in the parking lot of a motel on East Rundberg. Police questioned Work again and she told them she gave Colton to another couple at a fast-food restaurant but could not remember their names.
The inconsistencies did not fool the police.
Another detective drove to San Saba County to question Michael who was in jail there for probation revocation. Michael shared a similar story to Work's account of giving Colton away. When he was pushed, Michael told police Colton was dead and gave specific details about Colton's grave.
During interviews with investigators, Work told police her son had a seizure. Instead of taking him to the hospital, the couple brought Colton back to the motel room. Colton was not acting himself and was not walking, according to an affidavit.
Work told police she and Michael attempted to nurse Colton to health on their own. When Work woke up the next morning on July 7, 2014, Colton was dead.
Both Work and Turner told police Colton would have a large bump on his head. During their interviews with police, the paperwork appears to show the couple blames each other. Turner told investigators he was ready to drive to the hospital but Work feared they would get in trouble.
After finding Colton dead, the couple waited until sundown to hide his body, according to the court documents. Turner told detectives Colton's body was wrapped in a purple blanket. The couple planned to bury Colton but Work told police the grave was not deep enough.
The couple put Colton's body in the bed of a pick-up truck and drove back to the motel. The next evening the two drove to a wooded area off Felter Lane. Turner told police he borrowed a shovel and dug a grave two to three feet deep. Turner says he covered the grave with wood and placed sheetrock on top of it.
Turner says Work waited in the car while he buried her son.
MEAGAN WORK AND MICHAEL TURNER'S TRIALS
Work pled guilty to tampering with evidence and injury to a child as part of a deal in August 2018. The deal with prosecutors allowed Work to hold to the claim that she didn't kill Colton.
"I think she was relieved because for four years she has felt like that people are saying that she caused Colton's death and that was never true and that bothered her a great deal," said defense attorney Darla Davis on the day the deal was announced in court.
In December 2018, Work was sentenced by Travis County Judge David Wahlberg to 20 and 30 years that would be served concurrently. Judge Wahlberg said that Work's childhood weighed heavily on his decision. The State had asked for 50.
Michael Turner was sentenced in 2016 to 20 years in prison for his role in Colton's death. Michael agreed to a plea deal of two counts of tampering with physical evidence and one count of reckless injury to a child by omission.
After Colton's remains were discovered, a Child Protective Services report showed the toddler and his mother had multiple cases open with the agency. CPS admitted to failing the child. His case was closed, according to the report, because CPS could not locate the two.
Work had been on law enforcement's radar. But because there was no law requiring CPS to notify law enforcement they were looking for her, police had no way of knowing Work disappeared, or that her child was in danger.
A FOX 7 Austin investigation revealed there were many CPS cases like Colton's. In 2014, CPS was forced to close 2,493 cases as "Unable To Complete" because the families could not be found.
Colton Turner's great aunt, Raquel Helfrich, and long-time family friend Liz St. Clair pushed to change that by taking their fight to the Texas Legislature. State Representative Marsha Farney filed HB2053 and pushed it through until it was signed into law.
It now requires CPS to alert law enforcement immediately when a child in danger falls off their radar. CPS sends the information to the Department of Public Safety. The DPS in turn enters it into the C.S.C.A.L. database (The Child Safety Check Alert List). That record remains open for all law enforcement and CPS to see. Once the family is located, CPS is notified so they may make a visit to determine if the child (children) are okay.
RELATED: Colton's Law officially passes House