An Illinois woman has been convicted of killing her boyfriend’s 8-year-old daughter, kicking the young girl so hard in the stomach that she tore her intestine.
On Tuesday, a jury convicted Cynthia Baker, 41, of murder, aggravated battery of a child, domestic battery and child endangerment after deliberating in the case for about five hours, local station WGLT reports.
She is expected to be sentenced Feb. 3 and could spend life in prison after the jury found the murder to be heinous and with wanton cruelty.
Rica Rountree died Jan. 26 of peritonitis after she was kicked so hard in the stomach her intestine tore open, according to a statement from the Normal Police Department.
During the trial, prosecutors also showed videos of Baker and the young girl’s father, Richard Rountree, viciously abusing her, including one that showed Baker kneeing Rica in the back and then slamming her head into a wall, WEEK reports.
“For most, it’s unthinkable but for Rica, it was normal. In the 407 Stanhope residence, Rica was treated as less than as this defendant’s punching bag and her pain served as entertainment for the entire family,” Erika Reynolds, the McLean County assistant state’s attorney, said according to the local station.
The abuse became so commonplace that other children in the house just calmly walked by as Rica was being physically abused, Reynolds said in her closing argument.
Baker’s attorney, Todd Ringel, never denied that his client had abused the young girl but argued that there was no proof beyond a reasonable doubt that she had been responsible for the murder.
“She is 100 percent guilty of every domestic battery they charged her with. I’m her attorney and I’m telling you that. But those videos do not show aggravated battery, they do not show murder,” he said, according to WEEK.
Neither Baker or Richard Rountree testified during the trial.
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