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Child killer gets life sentence

Donald L. Cockrell cannot ask for parole until he is at least 61

CockrellSmithDonald L. Cockrell, 30, of Sandy will be behind bars for the next 30 years. This sentence was the result of his conviction on the murder of his 3-year-old daughter, Alexis, and criminal mistreatment of his other daughter, Kara.

Judge Susie L. Norby handed down the sentence last week in her Clackamas County courtroom.

Cockrell’s fiancee at the time of the death, Michelle N. Smith, 28, could receive her sentence as early as today. She admitted to the murder of Alexis and in a plea bargain agreed to testify against Cockrell.

That plea bargain will give her a life sentence, with a minimum of 30 years in prison for her part in the murder and mistreatment of Cockrell’s daughters.

In 2009-2010, the two were living with three of Smith’s children and two of Cockrell’s daughters in a portion of Smith’s parents’ home near Sandy.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to the home Jan. 9, 2010, and found 3-year-old Alexis Pounder on the floor, her motionless body emaciated and bruised from abuse.

The medical examiner said the girl had been beaten and starved until she died; however, death was caused by dehydration.

Cockrell’s other daughter, Kara, also was abused, but did not die.

Cockrell’s life sentence was imposed on three counts of murder by abuse and three counts of criminal mistreatment of Alexis, with a minimum of 25 years before parole can be considered. But there is another sentence of 100 months added for two counts of criminal mistreatment of his youngest daughter, Kara.

In total, Cockrell must serve 400 months before he is eligible for parole, with credit for time served. He has been incarcerated since he was arrested in early January 2010, which means his case could be heard by the parole board as early as Cockrell’s 61st birthday in April 2043.

The prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Christine Landers, said she was satisfied with the sentence.

“I feel like (the sentence) represents a fair penalty for what (Cockrell) did,” she said.

Defense attorney Jenny Cooke of Oregon City declined comment. But Cooke did say an appeal would be filed.

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