• 45°

Mother, boyfriend charged in severely burning young twins

Attorney Cecil Fields, right, speaks with Shanetta Tyus before her bond hearing Tuesday at the Dallas County Courthouse. -- Jay Sowers

Attorney Cecil Fields, right, speaks with Shanetta Tyus before her bond hearing Tuesday at the Dallas County Courthouse. — Jay Sowers

By Sarah Robinson and Jay Sowers

The Selma Times-Journal


District Judge Bob Armstrong set a $1 million bond for a Selma mother and her boyfriend after Selma Police Department investigators found the mother’s 21-month-old twin daughters severely burned.

Shanetta Tyus, 23, and Gabriel Fikes, 22, were arrested Wednesday for allegedly burning Tyus’ twins, two of her six children, with an iron.

The couple suggested to investigators that Tyus’ other children used the iron, causing the burns.

“I have never seen anything like that,” Armstrong said in court Thursday, referring to pictures of the twins and the severe burns. “They almost make me sick. I don’t know how you can do it. “

The investigation started March 19 after Selma police received a child abuse complaint, concerning the twins, from Vaughan Regional Medical Center.

After airlifting the children to UAB and searching Tyus’ home, investigators recovered an iron from the bedroom, where the children were sleeping.

Fikes, who was living with Tyus at the time, testified Thursday he was not in the home during the time of the incident and doesn’t know who burned the children.

Tyus said she was asleep during the incident before the burned children woke her up.

Cecil Fields represented Tyus. Fikes was represented by Weston Hill.

According to statements made by investigators at the hearing, officials with the Department of Human Resources determined Tyus’ other children — the ones she claimed burned the twins — could not possibly have plugged in the iron, leave it on until it got hot, burn the children, unplug it and then clean it.

District Attorney Michael Jackson and Assistant District Attorney Elliot Lipinsky, said that prior to this tragic incident, Tyus’ children were taken from her eight months earlier after Tyus’ grandmother told authorities the children were not being properly cared for.

DHR later reported Tyus as being cooperative and recommended to Armstrong at the children be returned to her, a decision Armstrong strongly regretted during Thursday’s hearing.

“Looking back, I should have never given those kids back to you,” Armstrong said.

After setting the bond at $1 million each, Armstrong also set a preliminary hearing for April 22.

Both Tyus and Fikes have been charged with two counts of assault first, two counts of aggravated child abuse and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

After Thursday’s hearing, Tyus and Fikes were returned to the Dallas County Jail.

Information on the condition of the twins was not made available.