TEXAS—-female may face death penalty
Capital Indictments Returned In Attacks…Death Penalty A Possibility
A 32-year-old Hillsboro woman charged with killing 1 daughter and
seriously injuring another was officially indicted on capital charges last
A Hill County grand jury spent nearly 2 hours Wednesday morning, August
12, pouring over 2 large ring binders of evidence in the case against
Debra Janelle Jeter.
The end result was capital murder and attempted capital murder indictments
on the suspect, according to District Attorney Dan V. Dent.
Hill County 9-1-1 dispatchers received a call from the suspect on the
evening of June 5.
She was at an abandoned farm house on Highway 77 just north of Hillsboro.
The caller stated that she had just killed her 2 daughters, but one of the
girls was still alive. She then requested dispatchers to send EMS
Law-enforcement officials arrived to find 12-year-old Kelsey Leanne Jeter
dead, and 13-year-old Kiersten Leigh Jeter suffering from a slash wound to
She was flown from the scene to a Dallas-area hospital where she underwent
emergency surgery for her wounds.
She was released from the hospital the following week in time to attend
her sister's funeral.
The mother had been held on charges of murder and attempted capital murder
since being detained at the farm house the night of the crimes.
Key to the capital indictments, Dent explained, was the fact that the
suspect entered the farm house without permission and then committed the
Mrs. Jeter has had 1 official court appearance the last week of June when
66th District Judge F.B. (Bob) McGregor Jr. ordered both a competency and
an insanity evaluation to determine her mental state at the time of the
A lengthy report compiled by Dr. Verl Childers of Itasca was delivered to
the district judge Tuesday afternoon, August 11, and was forwarded to the
Dr. Childers reportedly made three visits to the jail to talk to the
suspect before compiling his report. The court-ordered mental evaluation
showed Mrs. Jeter is competent to stand trial, according to Dent.
The suspect has been held in the Hill County Law Enforcement Center under
suicide watch since her arrest.
Her bonds on the 2 original charges totaled $1.5 million, which were
carried over to the indictments, according to Judge McGregor.
Sheriff Jeffrey T. Lyon confirmed Wednesday afternoon that Mrs. Jeter had
made 1 unsuccessful attempt on her life while incarcerated.
The suspect used a strip of cloth torn from a towel to make a noose around
her neck Thursday, August 6.
Jail personnel discovered the attempt. Hillsboro Fire/Rescue was
dispatched, but the suspect wasn't transported to a medical facility.
She was evaluated by MHMR personnel after the attempt, according to the
The frequency of her checks by jail personnel were stepped up to every 5
minutes from 15 min-utes, and additional measures have been taken to
prevent further attempts, the sheriff explained.
Mrs. Jeter is represented by court-appointed attorney Phil Weaver of
Whitney. He was in court last week and unavailable for comment about the
While there had been no official announcement that a capital-murder
indictment might be sought in the case, there was a tip during a recent
budget workshop conducted by Hill County Commissioners' Court.
While reviewing the jury-fund line item, County Judge Justin Lewis told
court members that a capital trial could be in the county's future.
Whether to add revenue to the jury fund from reserves to cover the
projected costs of such a trial was expected to be considered at a Friday
morning, August 14, budget workshop called for commissioners' court.
Mrs. Jeter could face the death penalty if convicted of capital murder.