Emotions ran high as a heart-wrenching case concluded.
Since Meagan Work's punishment hearing began Monday morning, witness after witness could not hold back their tears...even Travis County Judge David Wahlberg had a very hard time with it. "This has been one of the most emotional cases I've ever had to deal with as a Judge, as a lawyer, as a human being," Wahlberg said.
Judge Wahlberg says history has taught us, decisions based on emotion are not sound ones.
Wahlberg pointed to Robert Coe's testimony: a man who worked near where Meagan's boyfriend Michael Turner worked. Turner was not Colton's father.
The court was shown a re-enactment of what Coe believes he saw: Work striking Colton and slamming his head against a truck door in July of 2014. Because Coe feels such regret for not having called 911 right then and there, the Judge believes Coe wanted to make atonement for that.
"And I think that made him shade his testimony somewhat," Wahlberg said.
"To be used as a sex toy by your daddy's drug-addict, drug dealing friends," he said.
The Judge added that doesn't excuse Work's behavior but it needs to be considered...because the sexual assault of a child leads to a "lifetime of impairment."
Work cried as Judge Wahlberg read her sentence. For the charges of “injury to a child” and “tampering with evidence,” 20 and 30 years served concurrently.
The State had asked for 50. "The sentence that she is serving on the injury to a child case is aggravated. The same as if it were a murder, it's an aggravated offense, and she has to do half of the 30 years before she's eligible for parole," said prosecutor Jeremy Sylestine.
After the hearing, Work's attorney Darla Davis was visibly upset that Michael Turner, who is already serving a 20-year-sentence for his involvement, has "gotten away with a lot."
"But Meagan Work is Colton Turner - was - Colton Turner's biological mother and that imposes legal and moral responsibility that Michael Turner didn't have," Judge Wahlberg said.
"I am the mother of an adopted daughter. So to say that I am less responsible for her because there is no blood tie...that's nonsense," Davis said.
Colton Turner's great-uncle heckled Davis as she spoke with the press. "The D.A.'s office reduced Michael Turner's sentence and because he's a man he doesn't have to have as much responsibility and because there's no blood tie...so tell me that I don't have the same responsibility for my adopted daughter than I would have if I was blood-related, is anybody going to tell me that?" Davis said.
Colton's grandmother took the stand after Work's sentencing and called her "pure evil." "On September 21, 2018 he would have celebrated his 7th birthday. He would be in first grade. Our family and friends gather to celebrate his birthday every year at his grave. He deserved better," she said.
By the way, Work will get credit for time served.
So it's possible she'll be eligible for parole in a little over a decade.
The D.A.'s office says they will protest her release.