Heather Leavell-Keaton, the woman who murdered her common law husband’s 3-year-old son four years ago, has become the first woman in Mobile County history to be sent to death row.
Mobile County Circuit Court Judge Roderick P. Stout sentenced Leavell-Keaton to death by lethal injection on Thursday following about 75 minutes of remarks.
In his ruling, Stout said that Keaton failed to protect the children from “needless suffering and death and unexplainable malice.”
Stout followed the prior sentence recommendation from the jury, which found that Leavell-Keaton intentionally killed Chase DeBlase in 2010, but only recklessly caused the death of his 4-year-old sister, Natalie DeBlase. Prosecutors allege that Leavell-Keaton cooked anti-freeze into the children’s food.
Their father, John DeBlase, was convicted on multiple counts of capital murder in the children’s deaths in late 2014 and sentenced to death. Two jurors from the John DeBlase trial and five jurors from the Leavell-Keaton trial attended the hearing.
Leavell-Keaton, who kept her hair in a braided ponytail, displayed no emotion during her sentencing.
According to prosecutors, the little girl was choked fatally in March 2010 after being duct-taped and placed in a suitcase which was set in a closet for 12 hours. Her body was later dumped in a wooded area near Citronelle.
Chase died in June 2010, having been taped to a broom handle and left in the corner of the couple’s bedroom overnight. He was also choked to death, according to testimony, and his body was found in the woods outside Vancleave, Miss.
Corrine Heathcock, John DeBlase’s ex-wife and the biological mother of both children, began to sob hysterically and had to leave the courtroom when Stout read the horrific facts of the case.
Following the hearing, Corinne DeBlase said that Chase and Natalie “are in a better place right now.”
Prosecutors claimed that Leavell-Keaton was jealous of Natalie and bristled when friends and family members called her a princess. Chase was murdered shortly after he began asking where Natalie was.
“We believe that Heather Keaton … is a domineering, manipulative, deceitful and morally unhinged woman,” said Mobile District Attorney Ashley Rich. “Her actions are worthy of the death penalty.”
‘A death penalty is never required’
During the hearing, Rich and her co-counsel, Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Wright, kept a sculpture of two faceless children on their desk called “Sister and Brother.” Rich said it was representative of Natalie and Chase during the sentencing phase of the trial.
Greg Hughes, Leavell-Keaton’s attorney, argued that his client should be spared the punishment because “she’s a spiritual person now.”
“She’s into reading the Bible and writing songs and poems and she keeps to herself,” Hughes said. “She’s not going to be someone causing problems.”
He also added that Leavell-Keaton grew up in a dysfunctional family, developed bipolar disorder at a young age, and lived with a partial blindness throughout her life.
“A death penalty is never required no matter how atrocious, how horrible how anything is,” Hughes said.
The story was updated at 4:24 p.m. Aug. 20, 2015 with more facts and additional information.
A death penalty is never required no matter how atriocus how horrible how anything, it’s never required.