Judge checks kids’ well-being after sister beaten to death

Fifteen-month-old Sunny Dakota Slade-Bort died May 5 (Jamie Petronella Facebook Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A judge might determine the placement of two children whose sister, police say, was beaten to death by her mother’s boyfriend.

Sunny Bort was only 15-months-old when she died in May. Her mother, 23-year-old Jamie Petronella, faces two counts of first degree injury to a child. Petronella’s boyfriend, John Lawrence, 24, has been charged with capital murder and super aggravated sexual assault of a child.

Both Petronella and Lawrence were arrested May 5, the same day Sunny died in the hospital. Lawrence is believed to have intentionally or knowingly caused the death of Sunny by striking her with his head.

The arrest affidavit states, Petronella called 911 on May 3 to report that her child was unresponsive and not breathing. Police found Sunny lying on the living room floor in their Blanco home as Lawrence attempted to perform CPR. Emergency crews noticed the toddler had bruises on both sides of her mouth, as well as a large “dried wound on her face.

Petronella’s other two children also suffered from physical abuse. Sunny’s two-year-old sister was taken to a hospital in San Antonio where doctors discovered signs of sexual abuse with bruising on her back and worms in her stool.

The 3-year-old son, Petronella’s oldest child, was determined to have suffered from bleeding in his brain. Doctors also noticed multiple bruises on the boy’s face, including a “large handprint.”

According to court documents, Petronella failed to protect her children from physical abuse and tried hiding her daughter’s injuries from medical personnel. The judge will consider placing Petronella’s other two children with their paternal grandfather at a status hearing on Wednesday.

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