BRAMPTON, Ont. — A woman charged with murder in the death of her stepson told a court Tuesday that she took photographs of the 10-year-old boy chained to a bed as proof the boy’s father was abusive.
Nichelle Boothe-Rowe said she meant to send the photos to Shakeil Boothe’s birth mother, but she never did.
She and Shakeil’s father, Garfield Boothe, are both charged with second-degree murder in Shakeil’s death.
Boothe-Rowe said she “should have done more” to protect Shakeil but worried her husband — who she said had a history of domestic abuse — would turn his anger on her or their infant son.
“I had fear of it coming back to me,” she said.
She said Boothe would beat Shakeil with a looped belt “once or twice a week” to discipline him.
The photos show a young person lying on the floor and chained by the ankle to a bed, while covered from the face to their knees by what looks like a blanket.
The pathologist who examined Shakeil’s body analysed the photos in court and said the body shape and size, as well as injuries seen on the shins, were consistent with what he saw on Shakeil during the boy’s autopsy.
Shakeil was found dead in his bed on May 27, 2011, though paramedics have testified they think he had been dead for some time.
Prosecutors allege he had been abused, deprived of food and kept chained to his bed in the months before his death.
They say the boy’s father and stepmother knew Shakeil was dead for a full day before calling 911, and accuse the pair of trying to cover their tracks.
Court has heard autopsy results showed widespread internal bleeding that overwhelmed Shakeil’s body, already weakened by malnutrition and severe infection.