Mona Nelson, a welder and former boxer was found guilty of Capital Murder Tuesday morning, and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for the murder of a Houston boy.
Nelson, 47, was convicted abducting and killing 12-year-old Jonathan Foster on December 24, 2010. Foster's badly burned body was found four days later wrapped in carpet in a drainage ditch.
Nelson declined a jury trial and elected to let State District Judge Jeannine Barr decide guilt and punishment in the case. The verdict came after about two weeks of testimony.
Nelson was not facing the death penalty because prosecutors did not seek it.
During the trial, Nelson's attorney implicated Foster's step-father, David Davis as the killer, saying Nelson had no motive to kill a child she didn't know.
But a surveillance video from a business in the 1500 block of Childress Street recorded Nelson's truck pulling up alongside a drainage ditch, and the driver getting out to dump a trash container the night the boy disappeared. The boy's body was found there four days later.
Nelson admitted to police that she was the person in the video, but said she had agreed to dump the container without knowing the boy's body was inside, and that she did it at Davis' request.
“She tried to accuse me of having something to do with it. It's hard enough to lose someone you love without being accused of it.” Davis said after the verdict was handed down.
Davis was excluded as a suspect after police turned up cell phone records and video showing he was at a local ice house during the time the boy was killed.
Homicide investigators found Foster's sweatshirt with Nelson's blood on it, and pieces of charred carpet found with his body in a trash can at Nelson's house.
“I'm just thankful that she can't hurt anymore children. It would be nice if she was to repent and explain why she did it; ask God's mercy on her soul, but that's just not her way.” Davis said.
No evidence of a motive for Foster's killing was ever turned up, and the boy's body was so badly burned, pathologists could not determine how he was killed.
Nelson admitted she spoke with the boy at the apartment he shared with his mother and friend of Nelson's at 829 ½ Oak St. in northwest Houston just an hour of so before he disappeared. Nelson claimed she talked to the boy at the door, and that she left alone.
But prosecutors theorize that Nelson, who had been drinking heavily that day, became angry when Foster wouldn't open the door because he'd been instructed by his mother not to allow strangers into the apartment.
“Perhaps alcohol altered her personality,” lead prosecutors Connie Spence said. “I believe he did not do something she wanted to do at that moment, she injured him and then she eventually killed him.”
On Monday, both sides gave closing arguments. Nelson's defense attorney, Allen Tanner, argued that prosecutors lacked key evidence tying Nelson to the crimes.
"There is absolutely no evidence at all, nothing, nothing to link Mona Nelson to kidnapping that child," said Allen Tanner, Nelson's attorney. "To convict this woman and send her to prison for the rest of her life without parole on this evidence I think would be a huge mistake."
After the verdict, Tanner immediately filed notice he would appeal the verdict saying there was insufficient evidence to convict Nelson.