A Houston father who killed his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son and then, nine months later, seriously injured his own newborn son was sentenced to 50 years in prison Wednesday, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced.
“Children are the most innocent and vulnerable people in our community, and when a child abuser hurts, maims and kills them, we work hard to get justice for the victims and their family,” Ogg said. “This child abuser deserves to spend decades, and hopefully the rest of his life, in prison.”
Austin Reid, 25, was sentenced Wednesday by visiting state District Judge Mike Wilkinson for the death of 2-year-old Lucas Samora in 2019 and the serious injury of Reid’s newborn son in January 2020.
Reid’s girlfriend’s first child, Lucas, was pronounced dead at the hospital after Reid claimed the toddler drowned in the bathtub on May 19, 2019. However, the child had injuries that indicated he suffered from chronic abuse, including brain bleeds, optic nerve sheath hemorrhaging, spinal cord hemorrhaging and more than 20 cigarette burns. Experts could not determine exactly how the child died, and the autopsy was ruled undetermined for cause and manner of death.
While he was under investigation by the Houston Police Department and Child Protective Services for the death of that child, Reid’s girlfriend had another son and while she was recovering from a Caesarean section, Reid was tasked with watching the baby.
When the baby was a month old, in January 2020, Reid took the child to the hospital with a dislocated elbow. He told medical staffers that the infant had gotten his arm caught in a laundry basket five days earlier.
At the hospital, staffers called authorities because the baby had signs of child abuse including a brain bleed, broken arm, burns on his fingertips and other injuries.
Reid, who later said he was addicted to drugs including methamphetamine, marijuana and Xanax, was arrested and pleaded guilty to both offenses.
While he was waiting to be sentenced, he was released on bond with an ankle monitor. While free on bond, he was able to slide off the monitor and fled to Colorado. When he was confronted by law enforcement there, he lied and identified himself as his younger brother. Reid also assaulted a police officer.
He was arrested and returned to Harris County to be sentenced for both first-degree felonies.
During Wednesday’s sentencing hearing to determine punishment, the Harris County courtroom was packed with friends and family who cared about the two victims, and when Wilkinson handed down two 50-year sentences, one for each victim, the courtroom erupted in applause. The sentences will run concurrently, and Reid must serve at least 25 years before he is eligible for parole.
Assistant District Attorney Gilbert Sawtelle, a chief in the DA’s Child Fatality Division, said Reid had a long pattern of violence against people, including his father, stepfather, both of the children and even against an inmate in the Harris County Jail.
“He chose drugs and violence over family and the people who loved him,” Sawtelle said. “These are horrific and unthinkable crimes, and he deserves to be sentenced to 50 years.”
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