A judge is expected to rule on March 21 on whether to suppress evidence in the case of a 23-year-old mother charged in connection with the death of her young son.
Meagan Work, a former Leander High School student first arrested in 2014 after the remains of her 2-year-old son, Colton Brandt Turner, were found in a shallow grave in South Austin, has argued that statements made after her arrest should be inadmissible.
Her defense rests on the assertion that she was improperly questioned by Cedar Park Police, including Detective Chris Dailey, whose work on the Greg Kelley case has come under fire and resulted in Kelley’s release from prison.
Travis County District Court Judge David Wahlberg previously agreed with the defense’s assertion that her arrest was unconstitutional, but that ruling was overturned upon appeal by the prosecution.
In a pre-trial hearing Jan. 30, Wahlberg said he will review additional evidence before announcing his decision on March 21. However, he said he agreed Work should have been taken before a magistrate in 2014 on a misdemeanor charge for lying to officers. If that had happened, she could have been released from jail on a personal bond and released from custody, he said.
“I agree the police department was trying to locate the child,” Wahlberg has said. “That doesn’t excuse not taking her before a magistrate.”
Work’s trial is scheduled to begin May 7.
The Meagan Work case began with a search for Colton on Sept. 10, 2014, after officers received an anonymous tip advising that they check into the welfare of the boy after several photos were seen on Facebook showing cuts and bruises. Three days later, officers from several law enforcement agencies converged on a wooded area in south Austin where Colton’s body was later recovered.
The Austin Police Department took over the case after the remains were found, beginning an investigation into the circumstances of Colton’s death.
Work and her boyfriend Michael Brandt Turner — who is Colton’s namesake but not his biological father — maintained that the boy was injured by accident and died later after having a seizure.
Police initially arrested the pair on charges of tampering with evidence in the case, pending the investigation into the cause of death. Investigators found positive identification of the remains, and a statement from one of Work’s former co-workers resulted in new charges.
The witness told police that he saw Work shake the boy forcefully, then slam his head against the interior of the passenger door before throwing him in the back of the truck. At a press conference, investigators were asked why murder charges were not filed in the case.
Work has pleaded not guilty to her charges of tampering with physical evidence and injury to a child, and refused the prosecution’s offer for a 50-year prison sentence. Her boyfriend, Michael Turner, was sentenced to 20 years after pleading guilty in 2016 to injury to a child by reckless omission.