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Man charged with capital murder in death of Goliad County infant

By BY JESSICA PRIEST - JPRIEST@VICAD.COM
June 24, 2014 at 1:24 a.m.
Updated June 25, 2014 at 1:25 a.m.

Clay Butler

A Crossroads-area mother recalled Tuesday afternoon how three months ago, her eldest son held her 9-month-old as the infant took his last breaths in a San Antonio hospital.

"He loved Paul so much, and I wasn't going to take that away from him," Marilyn Weygand said. "When I got there, Paul had a lot of swelling to his head. The only way I could identify my own child was by his birth mark on the side of his ear. He had what looked like a hole on the right side of his ear just like his daddy. ... I cried - hard."

Earlier Tuesday, a Goliad County grand jury returned an indictment for Spencer Clay Butler, a 32-year-old homeless man Weygand and the child's father, Zachary McAdams, met at church.

Butler, who used to spend time and shower at the family's Victoria apartment, is charged with capital murder of a child under 10 in the death of their son, Paul McAdams.

Paul was taken from Goliad to DeTar Hospital shortly after 4 a.m. April 4. He died after being transferred by ambulance to a San Antonio hospital.

An autopsy determined he died of blunt force injuries to the head.

The state has not decided whether to seek the death penalty.

"I think this was absolutely the appropriate thing to do," said District Attorney Michael Sheppard of the true bill. "Motive is not something that has to be proven, but we do have theories on that. It is not something I should discuss with the press. ... We know the child suffered a severe blow; we don't know how it was administered."

Anna Maria Jimenez, a public defender based in Corpus Christi, is representing Butler. She declined to comment.

The district attorney's office began presenting the case in segments in May. It concluded Tuesday with about three hours of testimony from family members and law enforcement, Goliad County Assistant District Attorney Terry Breen said.

"There's still a few loose ends to wrap up, but not much," Breen said of the sheriff's office investigation.

The parents will not be charged with any wrongdoing, he said.

Weygand said she left Paul and his two brothers, ages 8 and 5, with their father at their grandmother's house in Goliad.

Butler was there, too.

Weygand left because she couldn't see and needed to go to the hospital to be treated for chemical burns after an attempt at dying her hair went awry.

Paul's grandmother, Linda McAdams, had a Victoria Advocate paper route in Goliad, so she and Zachary left the children with Butler so they could go to work.

Butler called them 45 minutes later to say the baby was unresponsive, she said.

Weygand noticed Butler was sometimes stern with her children whenever they would hang onto him but thought that overall, he was kind and never imagined he could do this.

She knew he'd been in prison before for a drug-related charge but thought "everybody deserves a second chance."

"He would ride to church with us on Sundays. I thought I could get him right with the Lord. I guess that failed," Weygand said.

When she asked Butler why he killed her child before his April 8 arrest, "He laughed at me and told me, 'I'll never tell you,'" Weygand said.

Paul was beginning to crawl and stand up on his own. Weygand said she often looks over photos she took of him taking his first bites of spaghetti, mashed potatoes and ice cream.

"I called him my funny bunny. ... He loved to laugh. He never really did cry a whole lot," she said.

A cashier at Whataburger, she said her other two children motivate her to get out of bed every morning.

She is adamant a judge never revoked her custody rights as their parent and the children are with a "voluntary caregiver."

"They still need their mommy. I have to have faith and hope in the Lord to help me," she said.

Weygand said she sees them once a week and must take some parenting classes before they reunite.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services' investigation into Paul's death is still ongoing, said Mary Walker, a department spokeswoman.

The children are with a relative who does not live in the region and a case worker checks on them regularly, Walker said.

"We understand that this may not have been at the hands of the mom or the dad, but we've got to make sure that no other children are placed at risk," she added.

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