Affidavit: Athens woman’s abuse, neglect led to death of child

Shonna Kay Pickle
Shonna Kay Pickle(Henderson County Jail)
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 12:42 PM CDT
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ATHENS, Texas (KLTV) - An Athens woman has been arrested following the death of her son, reportedly due to years of alleged neglect.

Shonna Pickle, 28, of Athens, was arrested on Wednesday on a charge of injury to a child after her non-verbal autistic 10-year-old step-son passed away in December 2022. An arrest affidavit revealed witness accounts and video evidence of Pickle verbally abusing the child, refusing him water and medical aid, and locking him in his room at night.

Upon admittance of the boy to the emergency room in on Dec. 26, the ER staff pronounced him deceased under circumstances the document called “suspicious.” The affidavit said that the child had bloodshot eyes and bruising on the throat and abdomen which were not consistent with CPR markings. It was also noted that the boy had very low blood sugar. It was initially believed that the death may have been caused by abuse or strangulation according to the report. A review of the autopsy report in April showed that the boy’s lungs were filled with blood at the time of his death.

“It appears that he had an infection that contributed to his death. I learned that his needs were neglected, and that neglect contributed to his death,” said Dr. Dakil from REACH.

Pickle had allegedly called 911 after the boy fell over and vomited. She reportedly claimed that she had been administering CPR, but when paramedics arrived she was not seen doing so. The document said that she was “crying mildly” and holding the child’s hand, but “appeared to not be very upset.” A firefighter on the scene later stated that she did not seem “stressed physically” as she should have been after doing CPR, and while the boy was still undergoing attempts at resuscitation, Pickle asked to use the bathroom.

A statement from the child’s respite caregiver reported abuse of the boy, including an apparent enjoyment by Pickle of raising her voice, hitting the child, and putting him straight to bed as soon as he got off the school bus. The caregiver also reportedly said that Pickle had given instructions not to give the boy anything to drink.

A statement from the boy’s father, Samuel Pickle said that the boy had fetal alcohol syndrome, and that Shonna Pickle was responsible for his care most of the time while Samuel was away for work. According to the document, the man kept tabs on the home by use of cameras, and he provided relevant footage to investigators.

The affidavit said that footage from Dec. 26 came after Samuel had called Shonna to check on the boy, who the camera showed lying on the floor next to his bed around 5:30 a.m. Rather than helping him, Pickle allegedly berated him, shouting at him to get in his bed. The boy appeared to be motioning for something to drink, and even after audibly gagging, Pickle reportedly responded with “I’m not giving you anything.”

Over the next few hours, the video reportedly showed the boy coughing and vomiting blood onto the bed and floor. He was not released from the room until 8:56 a.m., when the document said he could be seen hanging onto the door frame, visibly shaking. In later interviews with Pickle, she reportedly gave contradicting statements about the events of the day. She also allegedly revealed that she lost custody of four of her children due to prior abuse.

Based on these facts and statements, Pickle was arrested and booked into the Henderson County Jail on Wednesday for injury to a child. She is being held on a $500,000 bond.