Babysitter indicted for 13-month-old's death, faces life in prison if convicted

CINCINNATI - The babysitter who was caring for a 13-month-old boy who died, then took his body to an apartment instead of reporting his death, has been indicted on six felony counts that could send her to jail for the rest of her life.

Officials formally charged Marquita Burch, 26, with counts ranging from child endangerment to involuntary manslaughter and abuse of a corpse.

The charges stem from a May 22 incident in which Burch said that the child, William Cunningham fell down some stairs and that she gave him ibuprofen before putting him in bed. The next morning, police say, Burch found him dead and took him in a garbage bag to her cousin's home May 25 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 coroner 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," Dr. Sammarco told 9 News 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."

Burch faces charges of murder and endangering children for allegedly inflicting injury that resulted in the child's death. She also has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and a second child-endangerment count for failing to seek medical treatment after the child was injured. Counts of tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse result from Burch's alleged conduct after discovering the child dead on May 23.

Burch could face life in prison if convicted on all counts. She is in custody at the Hamilton County Justice Center on $500,000 bond.

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