US Justice Newswire – Arizona Woman Gets 17.5 Years Prison For Homicide of Three Year Old

PHOENIX – – Mercedes Howard, 29, of Sacaton, Ariz., was sentenced to 17 ½ years prison, by U.S. District Judge Frederick Martone on Wednesday, April 29. Howard had pleaded guilty on August 5, 2008 to Involuntary Manslaughter and Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury.

The facts showed that on September 17, 2007, Howard was living with her girlfriend, Alicia Manuel, who is the mother of the child. The child woke with phlegm in his throat. Howard became upset with the child because he spit-up on her. She began pushing the child into the shower where she and the child eventually began a shower. Howard was using the shower head to wash out the child’s mouth and the child was uncooperative. Howard then angrily pushed the child, who fell and hit his head on the bath tub. The child became unresponsive, limp and died a short time later from the injury.

An autopsy showed evidence of a significant injury to the child’s genital area. Howard first told law enforcement that the victim had “done the splits” and caused his own injury. She later admitted that about a week before the child’s death, she kneed the child in the groin because he was not brushing his teeth properly. The autopsy also showed evidence of multiple bruises over the child’s body and bruises to his head and face. Howard indicated that she would sometimes hit the child with a slipper shoe on his back. She would also hit him in the head when he would not eat.

The child’s mother was indicted on March 3, 2009 for her involvement in this offense to include her conduct in failing to protect the child (Felony Child Abuse); simple assault of the child (Assault of a Child Under Age 16) and trying to cover up the conduct of Howard. (Misprision of a Felony.) Manuel is pending trial.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Gila River Police Department and the FBI. The prosecution was handled by Sharon Sexton, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.


RELEASE NUMBER: 2009-146(Howard)

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