In a Florida courtroom the life of a mother hinged on the testimony of her seven year old son. Amanda Lewis was standing trial for the murder of her daughter, Adrianna, who has drowned in the pool at their family home in Esto, Florida. It was the testimony of her son A.J. that sealed her fate and sent her to prison. Read on to hear the whole story.
When A.J. Hutto entered the courtroom, it had been six months since he had seen his mother. When he met her gaze, he broke out in tears, as did she. “I kept asking my attorney to please stop,” she told “20/20.” “Please stop this.”
They were in the courtroom because one year earlier, A.J.’s half-sister had drowned in a backyard pool.
“I told them that we couldn’t get in the pool today because we were getting ready to go. So they wanted to go outside and play for a few minutes while I got everything ready,” she said.
It was 100 degrees outside and, even though they weren’t allowed and weren’t being supervised, Adrianna got into the four foot tall above ground pool. A.J. came into the house to get Amanda’s attention. “He said, ‘Mama, Adrianna is in the pool,’” she said. “At first I thought he meant maybe she was by the pool and I said, “OK, well, tell her to come in.’ ”
When Amanda looked outside at the pool, she saw a terrifying scene. “He was raking in the water with his hand, like he was trying to grab her … I ran out, ran out of the house,” she said. “When I got to the pool … she was face down. … She was very purple, very blue.”
She called 911. “Send an ambulance please. My daughter fell in the pool and she’s not breathing,” Lewis can be heard telling a 911 dispatcher on a recording of the call.
“Her lips are purple, what do I do? Water’s just coming out of her nose,” she said. “Please hurry.”
The police believed, at first, that Adrianna’s death was an accident. “She went in over the side of that pool, leaned too far,” said Fire Chief Charles Corcoran, who was the first to respond to Lewis’ 911 call. “She went down into the water and hit her head.”
Holmes County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Michael Raley, one of the first investigators at the scene, said there were “no indicators of foul play, no — nothing of that. It was just, you know, a child playing in the pool drowned.”
But A.J. told a different story. Just six years old at the time, he told officers, “Mama dunked my sister. She done some stuff that she ain’t suppose so my mama got mad, so she throwed her in the pool.”
Once in the courtroom, A.J. stuck to his story. He showed the jury a drawing he had made, pointed to his mother sister, and explained that the picture depicted his mother, “killing my sister.”
After four hours of deliberation, the jury sentenced Amanda Lewis to life in prison without the possibility of parole.