Christopher Sepulvado awaits execution at Angola. He was scheduled to die by lethal injection on Wednesday, Feb. 13. Now a family and community continue to wait for justice to be served.
Nothing can crush the heart of a kindergarten teacher more than hearing that one of your students passed away.
On March 8, 1992, word spread quickly in the small town of Mansfield, La. of 6-year old Allen Mercer's death.
His kindergarten teacher, Diane Deas, was in church when she was told the terrible news.
"I was devastated and shocked. No way this could have happened to this child. No way," said Deas.
The little boy was rushed from his home on Church Street to DeSoto General Hospital. His step-father, Christopher Sepulvado, carried him inside.
"It was obvious he had been burned badly because the flesh was coming off of him," recalled Dr. Jeffery Evans who examined the child.
Sepulvado told investigators the boy had an accident and slipped into a tub of hot water.
"He was already dead," said Evans. "We could tell that. How long he had been dead probably less than two hours I would say."
DeSoto Detective Lieutenants Toni Joe Morris and Judson Rives were called to investigate. they interviewed Christopher Sepulvado and the boy's mom, Yvonne, and then gathered evidence at the home along with witness accounts.
They say Christopher Sepulvado's story did not pan out. The say evidence showed that he abused and tortured Mercer after the boy soiled his pants at school.
"And he (Allen) had a fear of Chris I mean it was a horror," said Reeves.
Court records of testimony describe Sepulvado beating the little boy and even threatening to hang the child. And that's not all.
"They didn't feed him Friday night. They didn't feed him Saturday at all," said Morris.
Investigators say Yvonne and Christopher even made the boy sleep in his soiled clothes both nights on a trunk right in front of his bed.
After an argument with the child over getting ready for church that Sunday morning, March 8, investigators say Sepulvado struck Mercer numerous times over the head with the handle of a screwdriver leaving him unconscious. They say he then lowered the boy into a tub filled with scalding water.
Rives recalled early in the investigation when he measured the temperature of a tub of hot water in Sepulvado's house.
"I immediately looked at the water heater as to what the thermostat was on the water heater, said Rives.
"If I remember correctly it was 210 degrees."
Evidence showed Sepulvado made up his story. Mercer's autopsy showed severe burns on the boy's back and not his hands and toes, which is consistent with Sepulvado pushing the child down into the water, according to Evans.
It was a horrifying end to a young life. There are only memories now kept alive in a folder kept by Deas. Inside of it are photos and drawings. In one of them, Allen Mercer described his future occupation.
"When I grow up I want to be a doctor," read Deas. "And he will never get to grow up and he will never get to be a doctor."
Reporter's note: Wade Shows, the attorney for the Louisiana Department of Corrections, said that he will lodge an appeal before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans Thursday.