Man found guilty of graphic beating of ex-girlfriend, kidnapping of 2-year-old child
SHELBY COUNTY, Texas (KSLA) - On May 11, a jury in Shelby County found a man guilty on two charges and not guilty on a third charge in connection with a graphic beating and kidnapping case from 2020.
Zenas Montre Whitaker was initially charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated sexual assault. After deliberating for about an hour, the jury returned guilty verdicts for the assault and kidnapping charges, and a not guilty verdict for the sexual assault charge. For the aggravated assault charge, Whitaker was sentenced to 60 years in prison, plus a $10,000 fine. For the kidnapping charge, Whitaker was given 45 years in prison.
The Shelby County District Attorney’s Office says back on July 7, 2020, Whitaker broke into his ex-girlfriend’s home and beat her with an aluminum bat. The bat had been broken and had jagged, sharp edges on the end. The DA’s office says he also kicked her and bit her. Five children, all under the age of 6, were inside the home at the time of the attack. The children were reportedly in the room and witnessed the attack.
The DA’s office says photos from the crime scene were graphic, with blood all over the floor, walls, furniture, and even on some of the children. After the beating, Whitaker took their 2-year-old daughter and the bat and headed to Nacogdoches County, where he had lived for most of his life. According to Whitaker’s testimony, he left his ex at the home, believing she was not going to live, and knowing he was living four children unattended.
The victim says Whitaker took her cell phone to prevent her from calling for help. Whitaker testified that while he was driving through Martinsville, he threw his phone and the victim’s phone out of the window.
An Amber Alert was issued for the child. Whitaker was later found in Cherokee County. The child was found safe and given to the mother’s family while the mother was being treated for her injuries in a hospital.
It was revealed during the trial that just a few weeks before the beating, Whitaker had sent multiple texts to the victim threatening her. The DA’s office says Whitaker has a violent past. He was only 11-years-old when he was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Over the years, he was convicted of multiple violent crimes in Nacogdoches County.
“Shelby County will not tolerate this type of behavior,” said District Attorney Karren Price.
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