Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jury Convicts Baby Sitter in Death of Toddler at Wentzville Day Care

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jury Convicts Baby Sitter in Death of Toddler at Wentzville Day Care

Article excerpt

ST. CHARLES COUNTY * A jury on Thursday night found a former Wentzville day care provider guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 death of an 18-month-old boy under her care.

The verdict was announced after about six hours of deliberations. The jurors will reconvene Friday morning to consider a sentence.

Prosecutors alleged that Lisa West, now 42, caused the head injury suffered by the child, Mason Beach, just minutes after his mother left him at West's home day care. West has said Mason fell down carpeted stairs.

"It was a blow to the head that caused this trauma," Philip Groenweghe, an assistant county prosecutor, told jurors in closing arguments. "The Beaches ask for only one thing. What they want is truth, what they want is accountability."

West's attorney, Richard Sindel, said it's inconceivable to people who know West as a caring, peaceful person that she could have harmed the child whom she had baby-sat for 15 months.

"If Lisa was about to turn from who she is into the Incredible Hulk, not a single human being who came into the courtroom" to support her during the trial would think it "remotely possible," he said.

Sindel also said West called Mason's mother to report the injury just a few minutes after the boy had been dropped off at West's home. That wasn't enough time to "blow up" in anger, he said.

The cause of death was listed as blunt force trauma, but West wasn't charged with a crime at the time. In 2013, county prosecutors reopened the case and a grand jury in 2014 indicted West, who now lives in Plano, Ill., on a felony child abuse charge. That was changed last month to first-degree involuntary manslaughter.

Prosecutors on Thursday repeated that an autopsy carried out by the office of the county medical examiner, Dr. Mary Case, concluded that the boy's head injuries including retinal hemorrhaging were caused by striking. …

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