Foster dad at grand jury session
The foster father of a two-year-old Rockdale girl who died July 31—and husband of the woman charged with murder in connection with that death—was called into 20th District Court during a Milam County grand jury session Thursday.
But the appearance of Clemon Small was brief. Prosecutor Bill Torrey said Small went before District Judge John Youngblood and requested an attorney.
Youngblood, after evaluating Small’s financial affidavit, appointed Round Rock attorney Randall Scott Magee as Small’s legal counsel.
That puts any further possible legal action concerning Small—husband of 54-year-old Sherill Small, charged with capital murder in connection with the death of Alexandria “Alex” Hill—on hold pending communications between attorney and client.
Grand jurors did return 28 indictments on Thursday (see page 6A).
DEATH—Sherill Small was charged with capital murder in connection with the death, telling Rockdale police the girl was slammed to the floor in “an accident” at the couple’s San Jacinto Street home.
Lt. J. D. Newlin said Mrs. Small told police: “She was playing a game, holding Alex up over her head, swinging her down almost to the f loor, then swinging her back up.”
“She told us she did it once, twice and then on the third time lost her grip and the child hit the floor,” he said.
Newlin said autopsy records showed the child “was mortally injured by a blow to the head” and also received a bruise to the right side of her face and a lacerated liver.”
That incident occurred July 29. The child died three days later in a Temple hospital.
Torrey has said he does not think there would be an attempt to seek the death penalty, leaving life without parole as the only possible punishment if a guilty verdict is returned.
NOT CHARGED— Clemon Small was interviewed during the investigation and was not charged in connection with Alex’s death.
Newlin said Clemon Small told policehehada7p.m.meeting at a Rockdale restaurant, almost exactly the time the incident was believed to have occurred, and the restaurant’s video surveillance shows him entering the establishment at 7:02.
“ The video shows he only stayed three minutes,” Newlin said.
“He gets a call, which he said was the one from his wife informing him what had happened at home, and leaves the restaurant at 7:05,” Newlin said.
RESULTS—Also last week Residential Childcare Licensing released the results of an investigation into Texas Mentor, a state child placing agency.
The probe concluded the Small home had eight violations prior to the death.
Among those it was alleged that Sherill Small waited one to three minutes before calling 911, making another call first, when she realized the child had stopped breathing.
Other citations included allegations the Small home exceeded the total capacity of children allowed to care for, that a person known to be a frequent visitor did not have a background check and that an adult male was allowed to live in the home at the time children were in care.
Two other violation allegations included qualification of persons left to care for children at the home, one a 16-year-old babysitter— not approved by the child placement management staff and without CPR training—and one a 10-year-old who allegedly served as a babysitter while the foster parents drove to get fast food.