CINCINNATI - A babysitter will spend more than 19 years in prison after she pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the death of a toddler in her care nearly a year ago.
During her court hearing Thursday morning, 26-year-old Marquita Burch pleaded guilty to endangering a child, involuntary manslaughter and gross abuse of a corpse. Judge Beth Myers sentenced Burch to 19 and a half years in prison for the charges.
The charges stemmed from a May 22 incident in which Burch said that the 13-month-old, William Cunningham fell down some stairs and that she gave him ibuprofen before putting him in bed. The next morning, police say, Burch found the boy dead and took him in a garbage bag to her cousin's home and then reported to Covington, Ky., police that the child was missing.
Police recovered the body on May 26, and Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco ruled the case a homicide as a result of a subdural hematoma, or an injury to his brain. Cunningham sustained trauma to his head, and the Sammarco said they found blood inside his skull.
"I can tell you that his body was wrapped in a sheet inside a plastic bag that was placed inside another plastic bag with laundry in it and it was found in the closet of an apartment," said Dr. Sammarco on May 29.
Sammarco found that the boy's life might have been saved had Burch sought immediate medical attention.
"This child did not have to die," Hamilton County Prosecuter Joseph T. Deters said in a news release. "It is bad enough that Burch injured the child, but horrible to think of the child's suffering. It's clear the child might have survived if the defendant had sought prompt medical treatment."
In court, Burch said she regretted her actions. She originally faced six felony counts, but three of them were dropped.
"I just wish I hadn't panicked and I'm sorry to all that got hurt," she said.
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