A Texas mother of two has been charged with capital murder for allegedly giving her 6-year-old son lethal doses of methamphetamine and over-the-counter drugs to collect on life insurance policies she'd taken out on him, say authorities.
On Wednesday, Ashley Marks, 25, of Houston, was arrested in connection with the June 27, 2020, death of her young son, Jason Sanchez-Marks.
On Thursday, she was charged in Harris County Court with capital murder, the Houston Chronicle reports.
During her court appearance on Thursday, the judge denied bail for Marks, who is being held in the local jail, KHOU reports.
"I believe she poisoned her child to cash in on two life insurance policies she took out on her son a month prior to his death," Harris County Assistant District Attorney Gilbert Sawtelle said, KHOU reports.
Marks is a licensed insurance agent in Texas, Sawtelle said, Click2 Houston reports.
"She specializes in life insurance," Sawtelle said. "That was a big clue that this was not an accidental death."
According to a report from Texas Child Protective Services obtained by several local news outlets including KHOU, Click2 Houston and the Houston Chronicle, Jason and his 4-year-old sister had been staying with their grandfather, Marks' father, at his townhouse in Tanglewood since April 2020.
In June 2020, while the children were staying with their grandfather, they came down with tuberculosis, the CPS report says, Click2 Houston reports.
Marks came to her father's house every night over the course of several nights to administer medicine to the children, the CPS report says.
While Jason ingested the medicine, say investigators, his little sister refused to take it, the CPS report states.
In the two days that followed, Jason began vomiting and experiencing hallucinations, the CPS report says.
"The grandfather said he repeatedly contacted the mother over a two-day period notifying her that the 6-year-old child was ill (projectile vomiting, hallucinating, unable to sleep), but neither the mother nor grandfather sought medical attention for the 6-year-old as the child's condition worsened," the CPS report states, KHOU reports.
On June 27, 2020, the grandfather told police he found Jason "unresponsive and not breathing" so he called 911, the report says, KHOU reports.
Jason died on June 27, 2020, at his grandfather's house.
The manner of death was homicide, the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences determined, the Houston Chronicle reports.
"We believe it's her scheme to have her son die in her father's care," Sawtelle said, Click2Houston reports.
The grandfather has been cooperative with police, Sawtelle said, Click2Houston reports.
According to court documents, Marks allegedly gave Jason toxic amounts of over-the-counter drugs as well as methamphetamine on June 27, 2020, which caused his death, Click2Houston, KHOU and the Houston Chronicle report.
An autopsy also revealed Jason had been exposed to methamphetamine and cocaine, according to the CPS report.
Sawtelle said the grandfather told authorities that after Marks gave Jason the medicine, "he would experience seeing his grandson go through hallucinations," Sawtelle said, Click2Houston reports.
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While Marks remains behind bars, Jason's family continues to mourn the loss of the first grader described in his obituary as "smart, caring child who loved to play with toy cars and dress up as a cowboy."
Jason "loved to go to the park to play with his little sister, going to the Museum of Natural Science to see the dinosaur exhibits, and going to the Houston Zoo," it says.
"I just want to wake up and say it was all a dream," Jason's father, Mario Sanchez, said, according to News4SanAntonio.
Jason's younger sister is now living with Mario, according to CPS.
"I feel so sad," he said.
It is unclear whether Marks has retained an attorney who can speak on her behalf.
She has not yet entered a plea. She is scheduled to return to court on Monday.
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