Miller county woman sentenced to 40 years in child’s murder

On Jan. 13, 26th Judicial Circuit Judge Stan Moore sentenced a Miller County woman to serve 40 years in prison in connection with the 2008 death of 28-month-old Alexis Ward.

A jury convicted the defendant Cheryl A. Patrick, 23, in September 2012 for charges of the second degree murder and felony child abuse of the two year old Miller County infant. Patrick had been the regular caretaker of Alexis Ward and her 4-year-old sibling, both children of Patrick’s boyfriend. On Feb. 8, 2008, the child was transported by Miller County paramedics to University Hospital at Columbia, where she died from severe brain trauma believed caused by shaking and blunt trauma.

Because of the suspicious nature of the child’s injuries, the case was immediately investigated by the Miller County Sheriff’s Department, with assistance from the Missouri Department of Social Services State Technical Assistance Team, aided by technical support from the Missouri State Fire Marshall’s Office, the Mid-Missouri Drug Task Force and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

On May 28, 2008, Miller County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Howard charged Patrick with second degree murder and abuse of a child. Howard noted that the law enforcement investigation involved hundreds of man hours of work and analysis because of the difficulty making sure police were focused on the correct suspect, due in large part to misleading information given by the defendant.

The case was sent to Laclede County on a change of venue, and after a five-day jury trial concluding on Sept. 28, 2012, the jury found Patrick guilty of both charges, recommending 20 years on each count. Without comment, Judge Moore imposed the maximum possible sentence, ordering the two recommended terms to run consecutively one after another for a total of 40 years, after hearing from family members of both the victim and defendant, and recommendations from the attorneys. Prior to announcing sentencing, Moore denied a motion for new trial filed by the defense.

Howard stated in a news release, “In this particular case, the defendant didn’t show any remorse or willingness to accept responsibility for this little child’s death, and with that in mind, I recommended and argued without any reservation that these sentences needed to be consecutive so that prison and parole authorities would have the necessary tools to work with in this case. We are pleased that Judge Moore’s decision today sends a powerful message to the community that the protection of children is paramount, and that these types of crimes will not be tolerated.” Howard further noted that present law requires the defendant to complete a minimum of 85 percent of the sentences before parole can be granted.

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