Alleged child killers still behind bars
- Jim Hart
- Sandy Post - News
2011: Where are they now? An update of the Sandy Post's top stories of the year
The cold morning air went unnoticed Jan. 9, 2010, just days short of two years ago.
Firefighter/paramedics and Clackamas County Sheriff's deputies rushed to the thickly forested ravines a few miles southeast of Sandy.
In an isolated home near the end of a one-way, dead-end road 3-year-old Alexis M. Pounder lay motionless.
Deputies who responded to 22050 Cottontail Lane and investigated the incident as well as Dr. Larry Lewman of the Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office alleged that one or both adults living in the home were responsible for beating and starving the toddler - until she died.
The girl's biological father, Donald Cockrell, 29, and his fiancée, Michelle Smith, 26, have been in jail since then.
Smith eventually pleaded guilty to aggravated murder when she learned her sentence could be reduced if she cooperated by testifying in her fiancée's trial. Cockrell says he is innocent of aggravated murder and child abuse.
According to Jenny Cooke, Cockrell's attorney, his jury trial is scheduled to begin April 4 in Judge Susie Norby's courtroom.
Deputy District Attorney Christine Landers, who is prosecuting the case, said if Smith provides truthful testimony in Cockrell's trial she is likely to get a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 30 years.
The two adults were both residing in the home with five children. Three children are reported to be Smith's and two, including the deceased, are reported to be Cockrell's.
The home on Cottontail Lane belongs to Smith's parents, who resided on the home's second floor.
Kara Pounder, Cockrell's other child, also was reported to have similar injuries and signs of abuse, Landers said.
All four children were taken into protective custody at the time of the arrests, but recent calls and emails to a juvenile court prosecutor to ask about the children's welfare were not returned.