Pasadena Mother Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison for Role in Death of Toddler, Beating of Newborn

Pasadena Mother Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison for Role in Death of Toddler, Beating of Newborn

A Pasadena mother has been sentenced by a judge to 40 years in prison for her role in the abuse of two children, a toddler and a newborn, beginning in 2019, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Wednesday.

“Texas laws give the same range of punishment for an abuser and for cases like this where a parent consciously and repeatedly puts a child in harm’s way by leaving them with an abuser,” Ogg said. “This was not a one-time mistake or some awful accident, this was a pattern of intentional abuse. The children in our community deserve better.”

Emily Aust, 30, and her boyfriend, 25-year-old Austin Reid, were both arrested in 2020 as police and prosecutors unraveled their lies to determine what happened to Aust’s two children: a two-year-old toddler who was killed and a newborn who was seriously injured.

In the first case, two-year-old Lucas, Aust’s son by another man, was taken to Texas Children’s Hospital after being left alone with Reid on May 19, 2019. Reid was the primary caretaker and told doctors that Lucas drowned while playing in the bathtub. But the child’s many bruises and injuries, including cigarette burns, indicated repeated child abuse. Lucas was pronounced dead at the hospital.

When Lucas died, Aust was pregnant with Reid’s son who was born in late December. Five weeks after the baby was born, Reid took the infant to the hospital with a dislocated elbow. X-rays showed that the newborn had a brain bleed and other head trauma, likely from being violently shaken. Authorities investigating the case took custody of the baby.

Reid and Aust were both investigated by the Houston Police Department before being arrested and charged with child abuse. Scene photos from their apartment show a drug house unfit for any child, including drug paraphernalia like spoons with white powder, lighters and packs of synthetic marijuana.

Assistant District Attorney Gilbert Sawtelle prosecuted both cases and said Reid admitted to being on meth, marijuana, and Xanax when both children sustained injuries. In court, Aust admitted she also used drugs and that her drinking and drug abuse got worse after the first child died.

“All of this happened because she allowed it to happen by ignoring the constant signs of child abuse, including the death of her first child,” Sawtelle said. “If authorities hadn’t taken away the baby, he likely would have suffered the same fate because nothing changed and nothing was going to change.”

Reid pleaded guilty in both cases in July and was sentenced by a judge to 50 years in prison.

Aust pleaded guilty in November and was sentenced last week to two separate sentences of 40 years in prison, one for each child. Those sentences will run concurrently. She cannot appeal the conviction or the punishment, and she must serve at least half of the sentence before she will be eligible for parole.