Neighbor: Daughters 'would've been dead' if brother hadn't stepped in to stop mom


by Tanya Eiserer and Rebecca Lopez /

Posted on May 24, 2014 at 5:33 PM

DALLAS — It’s something that Saporia Lewis never thought she’d hear from a child.

“She says, ‘My mommy tried to kill me. My mommy tried to kill me and my sister,'” Lewis said. “She said, ‘She beat me because I didn’t want to get in the tub.'”

Lewis says the 6-year-old girl said her mother sat on top of her 4-year-old sister, holding her head under the water.

The girl’s mother, 35-year-old Sonja Gardner, is being held in the Dallas County Jail on two counts of attempted capital murder. Gardner told police that she had smoked marijuana laced with PCP and that she tried to drown her two daughters because they kept asking her for snacks, according to court records.

Gardner’s 6-year-old daughter told police that her mother said, “We were fixing to die,” according to police documents.

The two girls are safe and are in foster care, a Child Protective Services spokeswoman said. Gardner did not have a prior history with the agency, she said.

Relatives moved Sonja Gardner's belongings out of her apartment Friday evening. Ranesha Isaac is Gardner’s cousin.

"She ain’t never done anything like this. My right hand to the Man, my cousin, this is not my cousin -- that's another person right there," Isaac said. "That is somebody I don't know."

Lewis and her brother, Donald Metcalf, recounted the events that unfolded Thursday evening at their apartment complex in the 3300 block of Southern Oaks Boulevard. They say Gardner arrived home with her two children.

“My brother was talking to Sonya, but she was non-coherent with him,” Lewis said. “She seemed unusual. All she kept saying was, ‘Get in the house kids. Get in the house kids,’ so she snatched her kids up and walked upstairs.”

They heard blood curdling screams about 15 minutes later.

Then, they watched as the girl’s older brother ran up the stairs. He came back down carrying his 4-year-old sister. She was dripping wet.

He ran back up the stairs.

“The door was locked so he kicked, kicked, and kicked, and kicked and finally he got in,” Metcalf said. “He slammed the door and all you heard was, ‘Give me my damn sister.'"

A gunshot rang out. The brother came down the stairs carrying his 6-year-old sister in his arms. She, too, was soaking wet.

“They were both at the bottom of the stairs yelling, soaking wet,” Metcalf said.

The girls’ brother, Jydesmonique Gardner, didn’t stick around. He apparently left because he is wanted on a probation violation related to an aggravated robbery charge.

“He says, ‘Can you please just take my sisters? Take them in the house. Just take them in the house for me.' He’s like, 'I gotta go. I gotta go,’" Lewis said.

Lewis and Metcalf took the girls to their apartment. The 6-year-old girl said her mother sat on top of her sister and held her head under water. Lewis said both children had bruising on their chest.

Police soon arrived on scene.

At one point, Metcalf says Gardner was throwing things off the upstairs patio and acting out of control.

“When they got her in the car, she was kicking,” Lewis said. “She was kicking and screaming... The only thing I heard was, 'Ya’ll trying to trick me. Ya’ll are trying to trick me. Ya’ll trying to make me a fool.’"

Lewis and Metcalf say they did what they could to comfort the children. Lewis changed their clothes. They took them into their children’s playroom and gave them toys to play with.

“They eventually calmed down,” Lewis said. “My girls helped them calmed down. We had coloring books. Crayons were everywhere. We had a cartoon movie going on. They sat on the ground and they were playing and they were fine after that.”

Relatives say hours before the incident they tried to get Gardner help. They said Gardner suffered with drug addiction problems.

"If ya'll want to know, we took her to the hospital yesterday," Isaac said. "We took her, but it was so crowded and poor service, so we came home."

Gardner later told police that if her son hadn’t come into the bathroom, she would have drowned her two daughters.

The oldest girl also told detectives that her mother had said she wanted to hurt her with an iron, which Gardner admitted to having said, according to the records.

Inside the apartment, police found a bathtub full of water. Inside the bathroom, water covered the floor and an iron was still plugged into the wall.

“I believe if he did not get up those stairs, those kids would have been dead,” Lewis said.