Witness: Dad beat stepchild with stick
By Michael Wright, The Facts (Brazoria County, Tx.)

May 14, 2003

ANGLETON - A man accused of using a stun gun to discipline his stepchildren also beat one of them in the head with a stick, according to testimony Tuesday in his trial.

Theodore Moody, 28, of West Columbia, is charged with three counts of injury to a child and three counts of endangering a child. Prosecutors say he zapped his 8-year-old son with a stun gun several times Sept. 23, as he forced the boy to walk five miles toward school. The child was being punished for oversleeping and missing the school bus.

“If (the boy) got too slow because his little legs were tired, he got zapped,” Assistant District Attorney Terri Holder said.

Defense attorney Joseph Varela said Moody was simply a father desperate to discipline a problem child.

“The evidence will show he’s not using this for the gratification of his own personal desires,” Varela said.

Prosecutors Holder and Don Stricklin called the stepson’s school counselor and nurse, who each testified the boy had welts on his shoulders and buttocks.

Laura Rabon, the nurse, also testified the boy had blisters on his feet from wearing oversized sandals during the walk to school that morning.

“He had on a big pair of adult-looking sized, strap-type sandals,” Rabon said. “We has suspicions there might have been some other marks on the child’s body.”

On Tuesday, Moody’s neighbors testified he was eager to justify his action after the case was reported in media outlets. They also said he allowed his children to run around in dirty diapers with no apparent supervision.

Paul Reynolds, who lives on CR 289 down the street from Moody, said Moody came to his house trying to “rationalize” using the stun gun on his stepson. Reynolds said it was obvious Moody didn’t like the boy.

“He referred to him as an 8-year-old (expletive deleted),” Reynolds said. “He bragged about hitting him with a paddle and breaking it.”

Reynolds testified he slammed his door shut on Moody when Moody tried to defend the stun gun, which he’s also accused of using on his 12-year-old stepdaughter.

Varela asked Reynolds if Moody seemed happy about using the stun gun. Reynolds replied, “No.”

Tina Jones, another neighbor, said she saw Moody hit the boy twice in the head with a stick on another occasion.

“We were all upset to see something like that,” Jones said.

Moody has said in interviews his stepson was a discipline problem on whom ordinary punishment methods didn’t work.

However, his second-grade teacher said the boy was no more rambunctious than any other child his age.

“He was very witty, very funny,” Stephanie Kurlin said. “He made friends quite quickly. He just got along with everybody.”

When prosecutors asked Kurlin if she liked the boy, the teacher’s face lit up and she broke into a huge smile.

“Yes,” she said.

Moody is also accused of allowing his biological children, ages 2 and 3, to run around the neighborhood wearing nothing but dirty diapers in cold weather.

But Varela said that’s not all that unusual for a child to slip out of the door if a parent gets distracted for just an instant.

Beverly Crouch testified the Moody children were often playing on the private road into the neighborhood. Varela elicited testimony on cross-examination that the road was rarely traveled by non-residents and that she never saw the children on busier roads which were nearby.

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