Mother Kills One Child: Critically Wounds Another

Headlines read:  "Transcripts detail custody hearing day before fatal attack.

Paragraphs 8 through 11 read:  "HILL: "Are you – are you currently taking any medications, Ms. Jeter?" 

"MS. JETER:  'Yes'."

"HILL: "What kind of medications are you on'?" 

"MS. JETER:  'I take 100 milligrams of Zoloft every morning'."  

http://www.wfaa.com/sharedcontent/dws/wfaa/crime/stories/wfaa090609_mo_jeter.659cb159.html

Transcipts detail custody hearing day before fatal attack

08:59 PM CDT on Tuesday, June 9, 2009

By DEBBIE DENMON / WFAA-TV 
 
WFAA-TV

HILLSBORO – Many have questioned why a Hillsboro mother was allowed to visit with her daughters alone when just weeks before she tried to kill herself in front of them. 

The visit between Debra Jeter and her daughters, 12-year-old Kelsey and 13-year-old Kiersten, ended with the youngest daughter dead and the other in the hospital. Authorities said Ms. Jeter slit her daughters throat after taking them to an abandoned home Friday.

Court documents reveal that one day earlier, Judge A. Lee Harris held a hearing to work out visitation and custody of the girls. The father, Lee Jeter, agreed to give his wife unsupervised weekend visitation.

"Now, Lee has expressed to you a willingness to allow you a lot more access to the children while this divorce is pending?" asked Gregg Hill, Lee's attorney, according to transcripts from Thursday.

MS. JETER: "Yes."

HILL: "Okay. Weekends and that sort of thing?" 

MS. JETER: "Yes."

HILL: "Are you – are you currently taking any medications, Ms. Jeter?" 

MS. JETER: "Yes."

HILL: "What kind of medications are you on?" 

MS. JETER: "I take 100 milligrams of Zoloft every morning." 

The transcripts also revealed Ms. Jeter was being treated for depression after she attempted suicide when the girls were in the home. She was hospitalized at DePaul Hospital between May 22 and May 26. The father expressed concern over the mother's mental state during the hearing as evident in the transcript.

HILL: "We would like the order, your honor, to include language that either call for a psychological or psychiatric evaluation or an order that would grant us access to any medical records from Ms. Jeter's hospitalization at De Paul recently." 

The attorney also told Judge Harris that Mr. Jeter didn't have a problem with Ms. Jeter having visitations with her children the first, third and fifth weekend out of the month as long as there was a provision in there that would allow Mr. Jeter to know ahead of time what the plans were for the visit. 

The judge ordered both parties to sign HIPPA, or any other release necessary, so that either party could access the other one's medical record. But, the father never got the chance to see the records or any other notes on her mental state because the alleged murder and attempted murder occurred one day after the hearing. That fatal night was Ms. Jeter's first visit with her girls under the court order.

Hill County District Attorney Dan Dent said he holds Ms. Jeter, the mom, solely accountable for Kelsey's death and Kiersten's injury. Hill said nearly 99 percent of the time joint custody arrangements like this turn out okay. 

"You expect the parents to know the situation better than anybody," he said. "This was an agreed court order by the father and mother, and I don't believe the judge could have expected a tragic end result like this." 

Ms. Jeter faces charges of murder and attempted capital murder. She is being held on a $1.5 million bond at the Hill County Law Enforcement Center, which is where she is under a suicide watch.

Child Protective Services said its agency had no knowledge of Ms. Jeter's attempted suicide in front of her daughters. They said had they known, case workers would have intervened.

E-mail ddenmon@wfaa.com