HOUSTON, Tx. -- A Texas mother who's facing charges after three children were found abandoned in an apartment with the remains of their 8-year-old brother had her bond raised to more than $1 million.
Gloria Williams, 35, appeared in a Houston court for a hearing in which her bond on aggravated assault to a child was raised to $1 million. Along with the other charges she faces, her bonds now total just over $1.5 million.
Earlier this week, a judge called her bond "insufficient," and on Friday, prosecutors argued for a higher bond.
Williams' defense attorney, Neal Davis III, wanted it lowered, saying he believes $900,000 "isn't reasonable."
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Williams is accused of abandoning her three sons in a west Houston apartment, leaving them to live with the decaying body of their dead brother, Kendrick Lee.
Court records show the boys told investigators they watched as Williams' boyfriend, Brian Coulter, beat Kendrick to death last November.
His body was then left to skeletonize inside the apartment for almost a year as investigators believe the boys were largely left to fend for themselves.
The oldest boy, 15-year-old Jordan Lee, finally called 911 for help on Oct. 24.
That's when authorities also found 10-year-old Treyvone Lee and 7-year-old Javeone Kirklin. Williams also has two daughters, who were not in the apartment.
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During Friday's hearing, prosecutors said Williams was receiving government aid for two kids, including Kendrick, who had learning disabilities.
She was also receiving additional assistance for the older daughter. In total, Williams was getting about $2,000 a month in assistance for her children.
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"This is a crucial time in these kids' lives right now, as to whether they're going to do well or not," said Mike Schneider, a retired district court judge in Texas and former prosecutor who has worked on cases involving Child Protective Services and juveniles for more than 23 years.
Williams' surviving three sons likely first went to an emergency shelter, Schneider said, as CPS is now looking for a more permanent placement.
"Ideally, you want to look for relatives or what's called 'fictive kin,' people might have had a long relationship with these kids. Unfortunately, there's going to be a lot of scrutiny on anyone who claims to be a relative or friend of these kids, because the first question will be 'Where were you?' The second thing that's extremely important is to keep these kids together, if at all possible," said Schneider.
Melissa Lanford, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, told our sister station KTRK-TV that the children are currently in foster care and continue to "receive the services they need to heal."
"I've seen kids who've endured some of the worst abuse and neglect who have remarkable success stories," Schneider added.
Meanwhile, Coulter is charged with murder and remains in jail on a $1 million bond. He is expected back in court on Dec. 15.
Prosecutors said the apartment Williams and Coulter were living in was fully furnished. Meanwhile, the apartment the boys were living in, just 15 minutes from where Williams was, had nothing.
Also on Friday, family members of Daryl Wayne Towner, Williams' husband who died, are expected to speak.
Family members said Wayne Towner met Williams at a homeless shelter in Houston after his release from prison.
They said Williams was staying at the shelter with four of her children, including Kendrick. It was unclear what year they met, but the two were married by October 2017.
Wayne Towner grew ill and died in 2019, but family said he was very involved in all four children's lives.
"Wayne cared for and loved all four of Ms. Williams' children, as if they were his own," said Jennine Hovell-Cox, the attorney for Wayne's sister, Carolyn Towner. "As a result of the family bonds that Wayne formed with Ms. Williams' children, that family bond extended to Wayne's family members as well, including Carolyn and Kayla Towner."
The Towner family said they are still grieving Kendrick's death and pray those responsible are held accountable.