Former daycare owner accused of child overdose death retrial postponed

Waco, TexasKWTX)- Two days after the judge ordered a retrial on Monday for the murder of former Waco kindergarten owner Marian Fraser, the judge adjourned the trial, fearing there would not be enough jurors to complete the jury selection process.

Judge David Hodges considered Fraser’s attorneys’ motion to change venue on Wednesday and said he would wait to see if a jury could be chosen before ruling on the defense’s motion to move the trial out of McLennan County.

Frazier, 59, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 50 years in prison after a trial in Waco 19th District Court in 2015.

The jury found her guilty of giving 4-month-old Clara Felton a toxic amount of either diphenhydramine or Benadryl while the child was in Fraser’s care at her home daycare called “Rotten Spoiled”.

Fraser’s attorneys requested that the retrial be moved to another county due to the publicity of the case. They have also filed a motion to continue because they are requesting Child Protective Services investigation reports on the day care and its staff.

Hodges did not grant the motion to proceed, but urged prosecutors to try to get reports from CPS representatives as soon as possible.

Hodges agreed to adjourn Friday afternoon’s trial after court officials expressed concern that there would not be enough potential jurors to field a 100-member panel for Fraser’s trial, with enough panel members left to serve other courts. whose trials are due to begin on Monday.

McLennan County County Clerk John Gimble said he routinely calls 900 potential jurors every week. However, after factoring in excuses, exceptions and bad addresses, court officials are lucky to have 250 to 300 jurors each week, Gimble said.

Frazier’s attorney, Christie Jack, of Fort Worth, said Friday that “we continue to believe the venue change is appropriate.”

Friday afternoon’s decision to postpone the trial is the latest twist in a high-profile case that has swirled in the judiciary for years.

Frazier’s conviction was overturned and she was given a new trial after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that former Judge Ralph Strother gave jurors incorrect instructions regarding Frazier’s criminal mental state on the murder charge.

Jack said she, prosecutors and Hodges would hold a teleconference on Monday to discuss possible retrial dates.

Frazier, who remains at large on bail, testified at her first trial that she never gave Benadryl to children in her care without parental consent.

However, the child’s parents, Perry and Lauren Felton, told investigators that they did not give their child Benadryl, nor did they give Fraser permission to do so.

Parents of 14 other children in Fraser’s care had their hair follicles analyzed at a private laboratory in Houston after the child’s death. Tests showed that other children were given Benadryl without their parents’ consent, but evidence from these tests will not be available at Fraser’s retrial because the lab has since been closed and its director sanctioned following an investigation by the Texas Forensic Science Commission. . .

Hair samples were not available for retesting because the lab had destroyed them, officials said.

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