GATESVILLE, Texas (KWTX) The guilty plea from the man accused of raping and killing a 2-year-old Gatesville boy brings closure, but little comfort to members of the toddler’s family, who still deal daily with grief, anger and frustration.
Makai “Kai” Brooks Lamar. (Courtesy photo)
Makai “Kai” Brooks Lamar, 2, died after he was found unresponsive on Jan. 13, 2016 at his family's home in Gatesville.
He was severely beaten and sexually assaulted, according to a graphic arrest warrant affidavit.
Chet Michael Shelton, 29, pleaded guilty Friday afternoon to capital murder in exchange for a life prison sentence without the possibility of parole.
"It wasn't God that took Kai away,” the toddler’s mother, Madeline Lamar said Monday.
“It was Chet, a demon."
Family members say they’re left with memories.
"He was one boy in a house of girls,” the boy’s grandmother, Brooke Lamar, said Monday.
“He was like, ‘he's it’ and everybody knew it,” she said.
And they’re haunted by thoughts of what could have been.
"He's going to miss his first day of school, first T-ball games, first everything really," his mother said.
And he’s going to miss the time his grandfather, Joey Lamar, the father of three daughters, had hoped to spend with him.
“He would be of the age now where he moves into my realm, jeep riding, fishing, shooting guns, riding motorcycles,” he said.
“What if I had gone to pick him up for ice cream that day or let him stay out here with me that day, all those things could've been avoided."
Joey Lamar also wishes someone had warned the family about Chet Shelton’s dark side.
Shelton had previous charges for three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child in May 2007, four counts of indecency with a child sexual contact in May 2007, three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child in December 2007, and two counts of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury in October 2010, an affidavit showed.
"It could've been so easy. Just one phone call from friends that I've known for 30 years,” he said.
The Lamars weren’t the only people whom Shelton fooled, Coryell County District Attorney Dusty Boyd said Monday.
"He fooled a community, he fooled a very good and loving, very engaged family, he fooled his parole office," he said.
Prosecutors wanted to pursue the death penalty, but the toddler’s family didn’t want to go through the emotional ordeal of a trial.
“(There would be) appeals and appeals and appeals and they'd be bringing (Madeleine) back into the situation year after year 10 to 15 years, whatever it is and bring her back in situations where she'd never be able to move on if that's the case,” Brooke Lamar, said.
Boyd said Friday’s plea allows the family to look toward the future.
"Reaching the decision for life without parole is a decision that they felt could truly close this door (on) the criminal justice side of the house and move on and grow as a family, taking care of their health and move on with their lives, Boyd said.
“To me that was paramount in reaching the decision for life without parole."
Shelton was arrested four days after the infant’s death and was initially charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child.
The brutal murder stirred anger among some residents of the community and there were immediate calls for an upgraded charge, but prosecutors resisted the pressure as they built their case, and in June 2016 Shelton was indicted for capital murder.
A medical examiner determined that the boy’s death was a result of blunt force trauma to the head and internal injuries and that prior to his death the boy had been anally penetrated which caused "severe and distinct trauma," Texas Ranger Jason Bobo, an investigator on the case, said in the original arrest affidavit.
The affidavit also showed a time line of events on that day during which Shelton told officers he "was in care, custody and control" of the boy.
Shelton, who, authorities say was the mother's boyfriend, told investigators he had been caring for the toddler "all of the majority of the day" while the child's mother worked a double shift at a Gatesville restaurant.
During the interview Shelton told officers that the boy fell asleep on a living room couch and that later he moved the boy to his bedroom for the night.
Shelton said he stepped outside the house to smoke and when he returned to the house intending to take a shower, he went to check on the child, whom he found not breathing.
He said he attempted CPR but was not successful, so he carried the boy next door to where a deputy sheriff lived and an ambulance was called.
EMS personnel who responded to the scene told investigators they found the child nude on the neighbor's floor, unresponsive.
The ambulance workers also told investigators they noticed injuries on the child that "appeared inconsistent with marks that might be left from emergency medical treatment," such as CPR.
EMS personnel documented injuries to the head, face, abdomen and extremities "that included various bruises and burns."
Also they said there "were at least three abrasions or lacerations that seem to be consistent with the child having been struck multiple times on the right side of the head."
Gatesville police Officer Chris Cato, also in the affidavit, reported when he searched the boy's bedroom he found a pillow that had a blood stain on it and also found a larger blood stain on a comforter that was on the child's bed.