Woman sentenced to 40 years for toddler's death

Cheryl Patrick was sentenced to 40-years in prison for second-degree murder.

A 23-year-old Dixon woman was sentenced Friday to 40 years in prison for beating her boyfriendâ??s 28-month-old daughter to death.

Cheryl A. Patrick was convicted by a jury in September 2012 for second-degree murder and felony child abuse of Alexis Ward. Patrickâ??s two 20-year prison terms will be served consecutively.

While her boyfriend was at work, Patrick would watch his two children -- Alexis and her 4-year-old sibling.

Patrick told authorities that on February 8, 2008, she â??became upset and shoved Alexis to the ground twice from behind." She said she then "carried Alexis to the playpen...and left her there."

When the childrenâ??s father, James Ward, returned home from work, Patrick checked on Alexis and found her having a seizure. They called 911 and Alexis was taken by Miller County paramedics to University Hospital.

Alexis died from severe brain trauma, which was caused by shaking and blunt trauma.

The investigation into her death began immediately by the Miller County Sheriffâ??s Department, with help from the Missouri Department of Social Services State Technical Assistance Team. The Missouri State Fire Marshallâ??s Office, the Mid-Missouri Drug Task Force and the Missouri State Highway Patrol contributed technical support.

Patrick was charged on May 28, 2008, with second-degree murder and child abuse. The investigation involved hundreds of hours of work and analysis, because authorities needed to ensure they focused on the right suspect.

This extra caution was mostly because of misleading information given by Patrick, who told authorities four different stories about Alexisâ??s death before finally confessing.

After a five-day jury trial in Laclede County (the case was moved on a change of venue), Patrick was found guilty on both charges, with 20 years recommended for each count.

The judge gave Patrick the maximum possible sentence. Before announcing the sentence, Judge Moore denied a motion for a new trial from the defense.

Miller County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Howard stated, â??In this particular case, the defendant didnâ??t show any remorse or willingness to accept responsibility for this little childâ??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 Mooreâ??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.â??

Howard further noted that Patrick must complete a minimum of 85 percent of the sentences before parole can be granted.