Friday, May 25, 2012
Springs woman pleads guilty in death of 1-year-old Read more: http://www.gazette.com/articles/alexander-139189-child-girl.html#ixzz1vw9pVfaz
Springs woman pleads guilty in death of 1-year-old
May 25, 2012 11:52 AM
A Colorado Springs woman pleaded guilty Friday to child abuse resulting in the death of a 1-year-old girl.
Melissa Alexander, 27, admitted that she shook Jocilynn Graham in a Colorado Springs apartment last November before placing the girl in a precarious position on a couch, which led to a fall.
As a result of the abuse, authorities say, the girl lapsed into a coma from which she never recovered. She died two days later at a hospice center.
At the time, Alexander was a live-in nanny while the girl's father, Fort Carson soldier Matthew Strickland, was in Louisiana training for an upcoming deployment. Alexander also looked after her own child and sometimes babysat for a neighbor, authorities said.
She faces 30 to 40 years in prison at her July 23 sentencing. A first-degree murder charge was dropped as a result of the plea agreement. She remains in the El Paso County jail.
The case was among a string of at least seven child-abuse deaths last year that pushed Colorado Springs toward a grim new record for homicides -- 32 -- and spawned efforts by child welfare groups to curb violence against children.
During an emotional address to the court, Alexander said she "wasn't thinking clearly" when she shook Jocilynn and placed her on the edge of a couch before leaving the room to get ready to go out for the day.
While in the bathroom, Alexander said she heard the girl fall to the floor.
Alexander said the girl was "gasping for breath" and unresponsive, so she took her to a neighboring apartment to be seen by a neighbor with a medical background. That woman called 911.
Police said in arrest documents that Alexander repeatedly changed her account of how the child came to be injured, and that she admitted to previous acts of child abuse, including throwing a sippy cup at the girl's head.
Lead prosecutor David Kalicki said after the hearing that a murder charge would have been a tough sell under the circumstances.
"On these child abuse cases, especially ones involving shaking, it can be difficult to prove the 'knowingly' element that's required in a first-degree murder case," Kalicki said, adding the deal would ensure an appropriate penalty.
Strickland left abruptly after the hearing and couldn't be reached for comment. Alexander's attorneys, public defenders Deana Feist and Jeremy Loew, declined to comment.
Read more: http://www.gazette.com/articles/alexander-139189-child-girl.html#ixzz1vw9G98Ox