PHENIX CITY, Ala. (WRBL) — An East Alabama couple was convicted Thursday in Russell County Circuit Court of aggravated child abuse of an 18-month-old foster child in their custody.
April and John McDowell were convicted just a few hours ago after a nearly two-week trial. The prosecutor was Russell County District Attorney Rick Chancey.
“The jury heard a lot of emotional testimony and heard and saw videos of abuse,” Chancey told WRBL.
“We were glad to receive this verdict of guilty of aggravated child abuse, as to each defendant. It is unfortunate that people in our society will do such horrible things to the most vulnerable among us.”
The verdict was a message out of Russell County, Chancey said.
“And now the people of Russell County have spoken and said that will absolutely not be tolerated,” he said.
Sentencing is set for Dec. 19 in front of Judge David Johnson at 9:30 a.m. The McDowells had their bonds revoked and were taken into custody after the verdict. They are facing 10 years to life in prison.
“This child is now with a very loving family, and we appreciate their great support and help in this case,” Chancey said.
“It was very emotional for them as well, and everyone is glad that this can be behind us. Our hopes and prayers are with this child as she grows and puts this chapter of her life behind her.”
The little girl was abused, and her injuries included multiple broken bones and a fractured skull.
Chancey credited a team effort for the conviction in a lengthy trial.
“This case was a very emotional case for our office,” he said. “Assistant District Attorney Malory Hatfield and I worked alongside the Russell County Sheriff’s Department.”
Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor also praised the jury. “I think the Jury got it right and I was happy to see them placed in custody,” Taylor told WRBL.
The state called approximately 14 witnesses and entered more than 200 exhibits.