Teresa Black verdict update: Mom ruled innocent of son’s murder but guilty of concealing death

Profile pic of William DaShawn Hamilton
The authorities are still unsure exactly how 6-year-old William DaShawn Hamilton died. Pic credit: DeKalb County Sheriff’s Dept

A jury in DeKalb County, Georgia, has declared Teresa Ann Bailey Black not guilty of killing her young son, William DaShawn Hamilton, in 1999.

However, the jury did convict Black of concealing the 6-year-old’s death for over two decades.

Black will be sentenced on Friday and could face up to ten years in prison.

This controversial and emotional case first emerged on February 26, 1999, when a gravedigger stumbled upon Black’s remains in a secluded wood near a Decatur cemetery in the Atlanta suburbs.

William’s skull had been fractured, and his body contained traces of acetaminophen and diphenhydramine, more commonly known as Tylenol and Benadryl. The body had been dumped six months before and was badly decomposed.

The medical examiners studied the body for 20 years but were unable to establish the cause of death.

It took 20 years to identify William DaShawn Hamilton as the body found in the woods

The child’s identity was also unknown for 20 years, which caused the case to remain cold. However, a breakthrough finally came when the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children released an updated artist’s impression of William, and somebody called in to say they recognized him.

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A DNA test confirmed William’s identity. In February 2022, the cops tracked down his mother, Teresa Black, in Phoenix, Arizona.

An investigation learned that in 1999, Black and her son had been living in Charlotte, North Carolina, when she abruptly pulled William out of school and moved them to DeKalb County. Black returned to Charlotte a few months later without William and told differing stories about his whereabouts.

Black later told the police that William had become sick and died when she gave him an accidental overdose of medicine. She claimed she hadn’t meant to harm him, and it was all a tragic accident. She did confess to concealing his body.

She was eventually charged with two counts of felony murder, aggravated assault, cruelty to children, and concealing a death. But this week, she was acquitted on all charges except the last one.

Mugshot of Teresa Black
Teresa Black faces jail time for concealing her son’s death. Pic credit: DeKalb County Sheriff’s Dept

Black’s defense team portrayed their client in 1999 as a homeless single mom who didn’t know how to treat her son’s illness properly. They argued she had acted with the best intentions.

However, the main issue for the state prosecution was they were simply unable to prove that William was murdered. Multiple medical examiners testified that they did not know the cause of death.

DeKalb County DA still suspect Teresa Black is responsible for death of William DaShawn Hamilton

DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston said her office still believes Black was responsible for her son’s death.

Boston told reporters, “While we respect the jury’s verdict, I would be lying if I didn’t say we weren’t disappointed.”

After the trial, some jury members told the press the jury had struggled to reach an agreement. Juror Nathan Mittleman told WSB-TV Atlanta, “Yeah, it was emotional for all of us. There was one lady who was crying in the jury room. We all wanted to see things go differently, but at the end of the day … we had to go with what the law was.”

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