Devon Shakleforddevon shackleford

Devon was a 2 year old boy that lived with his mother and her boyfriend. Devon did not have to die. If only his mother would have protected him. Devon was being beaten and attempts to smother him with pillows and plastic bags were made. When he told his mother she did nothing about it saying she could not believe him all the time. She would see the bruises and still do nothing to protect Devon. In 2003 Devon sustained a broken leg and had been choked by his mothers boyfriend while Devon was getting a diaper change. Child Protective Services would be called and Devon’s mother would be told that if she continued to see her boyfriend that Devon would be taken away. Instead of putting her son and his safety first she selfishly continued to see him. In a letter to her boyfriend it stated "I can either have my 100 percent reason for living or I can have you. It's the utmost hardest decision anybody ever had to make." To most loving parents this would have been an easy decision. You protect your child and if that means leaving a man that has abused and already tried to kill your son, you do it. But she did not leave him. They would eventually get engaged. But the mother said she broke it off. When Devon and his mother were at home asleep the boyfriend would go into their home and take Devon. He would take him all the way to a pulbic pool where he held Devon under water until he died. He then just left Devon there floating in the water with his spider man doll.
Why did Devon have to die?
Oct. 31, 2007 12:00 AM

You go because you've never been able to shake that image of the little boy found floating in the pool, a few inches away from his trusty Spider-Man doll.

You go because you want to believe the mother over the murderer, because you want to think there was somebody on his side. And so you go to Courtroom 914 in hopes of finding out why 2-year-old Devon Shackleford had to die.

On one side sits Derek Chappell, 25, flanked by attorneys who are trying to persuade a jury to spare their client a date with a deadly needle. Three months ago, this jury found Chappell guilty of coming into a Mesa apartment in the dead of night, taking Devon from his mother's bed, leading him by the hand to the pool and holding him under the cold, dark water until he quit struggling.

On the other is Kristal Shackleford, 25, flanked by friends and family, seated behind prosecutors. Shackleford declined to testify during the guilt phase of Chappell's trial, invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

It's a tragic story coming out of this courtroom, one that repeats itself around the Valley, where the equation of mother plus boyfriend too often adds up to one dead kid.

Shackleford and Chappell met in September 2003. She was a single mom, struggling to raise her son. He was a student, living with his parents and a daughter. Within a month, they were living together. It didn't take long, she would later say, before she began noticing bruises on her son, who would tell of "Daddy" trying to smother him with a pillow or a plastic bag.

"I want to try to believe Devon at all times, but I don't . . . ," she wrote to Chappell in a November 2003 e-mail, read in court this week. "I know you wouldn't hurt him and if you ever did, you would tell me."

By December 2003, the boy had a broken leg and had been choked by Chappell during a diaper change. Shackleford moved out after Child Protective Services threatened to take the boy if she continued seeing Chappell. But the relationship apparently didn't end.

Her long e-mails to Chappell in late 2003 and early 2004 tell of a woman struggling to decide whether she could keep her son safe and keep her boyfriend: "I can either have my 100 percent reason for living or I can have you," she wrote on Jan. 30, adding on Feb. 22, "It's the utmost hardest decision anybody ever had to make."

Eighteen days later, Shackleford awoke to find the door open and Devon gone. She called 911, sobbing that someone had taken her son. "My ex wants to get back together but he won't because of Devon," she said.

After his arrest, Chappell turned on Shackleford, claiming that she had masterminded the plan and even written a list of instructions - one he burned after drowning the boy. Shackleford countered that Chappell killed Devon because she had broken up with him in December and had told him the night before Devon died that she didn't want to get back together.

She didn't initially mention to police, however, that they'd gotten engaged five days earlier. She would later say that she had broken off the engagement the previous day.

No charges were brought against Kristal Shackleford. She has been in court every day these past 19 weeks, watching the trial of the man who murdered her son.

She wouldn't talk to me. I didn't expect her to. Still, I would have liked to ask her a question, one I would ask so many mothers these days. Choosing between her son and her boyfriend, she once wrote, was "the utmost hardest decision anybody ever had to make."


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