Felicia L. Adams, 54, and Jesse C. Franks, 58, are facing domestic violence charges of homicide by abuse and second-degree murder in Karreon Frank’s death and two counts of second-degree criminal mistreatment of Karreon’s brothers, then 14 and 13 years old.
Their joint trial began Oct. 16 in Clark County Superior Court.
Prosecutors say Karreon and his brothers were accustomed to food restriction and corporal punishment in the home. But Adams and Franks’ defense attorneys say Karreon’s medical conditions were to blame for his death.
Karreon was severely developmentally delayed and autistic, to the point he was nearly nonverbal. He was also legally blind and used a cane to get around, both the defense and prosecution told the jury.
On Monday, jurors heard from a handful of witnesses, including Karreon’s brothers and the social worker who visited the home about a week before his death.
Karreon’s youngest brother, now 16, testified Monday afternoon he and his older surviving brother would hoard food in the home. He testified that when he got in trouble for being disruptive at school or for stealing food in the home, they’d be punished by having meals restricted or being locked in their room. He also testified about being spanked with a wooden paddle and electrical cord.
On cross-examination, the teen said he didn’t tell his teachers about the abuse and lied to doctors because he didn’t want to get in more trouble at home.
He also testified Karreon was food-obsessed and often regurgitated his food. He said Adams took away Karreon’s food when he’d regurgitate, to the point he became “really skinny.” He said their parents began feeding Karreon rice and mashed potatoes to try to get his weight back up.
The social worker testified that when she visited the home before Karreon’s death, it appeared to be safe. She noted food in the kitchen and on the counters. She also noted a lock on the outside of the boys’ bedroom door.
She observed the brothers appeared to be “very thin,” with Karreon being the thinnest, she said.
She also testified on cross-examination Karreon’s youngest brother told her about being physically disciplined and sometimes having food withheld as a form of discipline. His other brother said he felt safe in the home, she said.
The social worker said she shared information with Adams about proper parental discipline.
The trial continues Tuesday with more state’s witnesses.