A Missouri mother has reportedly been sentenced to 25 years in prison for encouraging her boyfriend to sexually assault her 4-month-old daughter – an incident that led to the baby’s death.
Jessica Lynn Howell, 26, reportedly pleaded guilty Friday to felony abuse of a child and felony murder, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
During the attack, which reportedly took place in December 2012, Howell allowed her boyfriend, Jordan Lafayette Prince, 26, to beat and strangle her infant in an attempt to stop her from crying. Prince, who was a registered sex offender whom Howell met through Facebook while pregnant, reportedly admitted to the mother that he had sexually abused a 4-year-old girl in Idaho, according to police.
Despite having this knowledge, Howell proceeded to take her baby, Ashlynn Lillith Peters, to Prince’s mobile home for overnight visits. When her child was 1 month old, Howell reportedly sent several text messages to Prince in which she told him she wanted him to have sexual contact with her baby.
After the attack, an autopsy revealed that Ashlynn died from asphyxiation, but that she also suffered from serious injuries resulting from a sexual assault that caused internal bleeding. Experts determined that, even if the infant had not been strangled, she would have died from her injuries.
Ashlynn also suffered from bruises to her chest, abdomen, left arm, back and legs, according to police. Blunt force trauma to the left side of her head reportedly caused a cut to her ear and bleeding near her skull.
Howell, who has two other children – one has been adopted and the other is in foster care – reportedly shook her head in court when Circuit Judge Dan Pelikan asked her if she had any remorse and responded, “My actions were foolish. I didn’t understand the weight of my actions.”
Prince has been charged with first-degree murder, abuse of a child, and forcible sodomy. He is scheduled to stand trial on March 23.
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Photo Credit: County Department of Corrections, Wikimedia Commons