ANDERSON — At precisely the moment Alexis Marie Wasson took her last breath on Aug. 10 at St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital, her best friend Abbi Owens’ baby girl gasped in her first breath of air as she entered the world.
Wasson’s maternal aunt, Melissa Klabunde, and paternal aunt, Demetrice Hudson, don’t think that’s a coincidence, that maybe Wasson’s newly born namesake breathed in her spirit.
“It was a miracle on all sides,” said Klabunde, clutching a bag of M&Ms to carry her through the viewing on Friday evening.
The aunts were among several family members keeping watch over Wasson, a 2008 graduate of Anderson High School, as dozens of people streamed into the First Church of the Nazarene Friday and Saturday to pay their final respects.
Wasson, 29, was shot in the back of the head around 3 a.m. on Aug. 2 in the 200 block of Mellen Drive. She was kept on life support until her twin boys died at 21 weeks’ gestation on Aug. 7 and Aug. 8.
Her boyfriend, Skye'lar De'andre White, 29, who family members said was the twins’ father, has pleaded not guilty to murder and two counts of Level 3 felony feticide. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 117 years behind bars.
“He keeps saying it was an accident; he just grazed her. I don’t believe it,” Hudson said.
Family and friends said they had seen evidence before of what they believed was domestic violence against Wasson by White. Hudson and Kendra Wright, a friend of Wasson since middle school, each said they had seen her with a black eye.
Hudson said Wasson came to her house with a black eye about three months ago.
“I said, ‘Lex, sometimes you think you love somebody, but sometimes, when someone makes you feel worthless to make themselves feel worthful, that’s not a good thing.’”
As a volunteer, Hudson said, she had encountered battered women who told her they just couldn’t get away.
“I just couldn’t imagine how this would be,” she said. “This is something to be talked about. Nobody is the winner in situations like this.”
Wright, who hadn’t seen Wasson for about nine months before her death, said she had seen Wasson a couple of times with black eyes, black eyes she said she is certain were caused by White.
“I didn’t know it was this deep. I didn’t know it was that bad,” she said. “It’s not enough justice. I don’t care if he got 299 years. She’s gone for the rest of everybody’s life, her own daughter’s life.”
Wasson practically was a part of the family, Wright said.
“My parents treated her like their daughter, also. My dad paid for her senior pictures because she fell short on the money,” she said.
Wright often did fun things with Wasson, but once she started dating White, who was on house arrest for a while, their contact became more sporadic.
The woman they called “Lexi” was a fun-loving and nurturing woman and mother, friends and family recalled.
“She was always a giving, loving, sweet-hearted young lady who put her family first,” Klabunde said. “She was always into things where she took care of people.”
That’s why Wasson was studying to be a phlebotomist.
“She had a good, genuine heart, and if she was your friend, she was your friend for a lifetime,” Hudson said. “She could make you see the good in the worst.”
But Wasson also had a mischievous side, like the time they played beauty shop, her cousin Sara Meacham recalled. That didn’t end well for Meacham.
“She used real scissors,” she said.
Though she had entered into a pact years ago with her girlfriends not to have any children, Wasson was a doting mother to her 5-year-old daughter, Khi’Yauna Miller, and looked forward to the birth of the twins. She had planned a Dr. Seuss-themed gender reveal party for which the twins would have been represented by Thing 1 and Thing 2, Hudson said.
“We are the kind of family where we take care of all our babies,” she said.
At times, Wasson’s love of her children merged with her love of crafting, Hudson said.
“When Khi’Yauna turned 5, she wanted to have a piñata but couldn’t find one in the stores, so she decided to make one. When she did it, it was beautiful,” she said.
Tears streamed down 8-year-old Tariana Peoples’ face as she looked over a collection of photos gathered for the viewing of the woman she called her best friend. A photo of her with Wasson is the wallpaper on her phone.
Tariana is Wright’s daughter and often played with Khi’Yauna, who now will be living with her father.
“She used to take me and Ki’Yauna to get ice cream,” Tariana said.
Follow Rebecca R. Bibbs on Twitter at @RebeccaB_THB, or call 765-640-4883.