Cooke County Grand Jury officials confirmed a charge of capital murder for Johnny Earl Alexander in the September 2011 death of Nathan De Alejandro, 4, in Gainesville.
Alexander faces trial in November. His capital charge follows a felony offense conviction of fatal injury to a child for Catrina Maldonado, mother of the victim. Maldonado was remanded to a Texas Department of Criminal Justice facility in September — and Johnny Lee Alexander and Matilde Medina Alexander, two other suspects in the same incident, are currently serving time in a Texas Department of Correctional Justice facility, having already pled guilty to felony charges related to the child’s death.
In the case of all suspects except for Johnny Earl Alexander, Cooke County District Attorney’s office officials explained in September that the initial charges were lowered from the level of a first-degree felony to third-degree felony since the child’s injuries — serious burns that proved fatal — were not verified to be directly caused by the suspects.
The elevated capital charge for Johnny Earl Alexander stems, officials said, from evidence uncovered during Maldonado’s trial.
De Alejandro died days after sustaining his injuries, the official said, and the four suspects were complicit in keeping the child from proper medical care. This was allegedly because the child accidentally suffered his burns while adults manufactured drugs and his guardians attempted to treat him at home rather than submit to authorities.
Maldonado’s offense of neglect allegedly began Sept. 10, 2011, and the offenses of the other three suspects allegedly occurred Sept. 21, 2011. The case itself began on Sept. 21, 2011, when Gainesville police officers visited 913 Dover Drive to serve an arrest warrant in connection to drug trafficking indictments. The suspect they wanted was not located.
But while checking the scene, officers detected contraband items and remained on scene long enough to secure the location in order to obtain a search warrant. Nathan De Alejandro was at the Dover residence and appeared to be asleep and under covers when officers arrived. Maldonado told officers the child was sick. Prior to being issued a search warrant, the Dover residence subjects told officers that Johnny Lee and Matilde Alexander, the parents of guardian Johnny Earl Alexander, were about to arrive at the residence and take De Alejandro to a doctor’s appointment. The Alexanders arrived, took custody of the boy and left.
Burn injuries to his body, which had already been sustained and were later determined to be extensive second and third-degree burns, were obscured from view, which meant officers were unaware of that problem.
Investigators reportedly presumed that on the morning of Sept. 21, 2011, when the child was taken away by the senior Alexanders, he was taken to their residence rather than to a doctor’s office.
Nathan De Alejandro’s medical condition had worsened. Shortly after 1:30 a.m. Sept. 24, 2011, officers returned to Dover Drive in response to reports of a child not breathing. Catrina Maldonado had taken Nathan De Alejandro to a neighbor’s home after he showed breathing problems — and the neighbor was trying to resuscitate the child at this residence as officers arrived. Emergency Medical Services transported the boy to North Texas Medical Center, where he later died at 3:30 a.m.
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