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Ogden jury convicts day care worker of child abuse homicide

Published May 17, 2017 11:11 pm

Courts • She faces up to life in prison when sentenced.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

An Ogden jury on Tuesday convicted a Roy day care worker of child abuse homicide for the 2014 death of an 8-month-old boy who was in her care.

Jurors deliberated for more than four hours Tuesday before finding 36-year-old Tisha Lynn Morley guilty of the first-degree felony, which can carry a maximum penalty of up to life in prison.

Morley, who had been free on bail since charges were filed in 2014, was handcuffed after the verdict and taken into custody. Her sentencing date was set for June 20.



The defendant's attorney, Logan Bushell, had asked the jury to find her guilty of negligent homicide, a class A misdemeanor that could have put her in jail for no more than a year.

Lincoln Penland suffered devastating injuries on Feb. 19, 2014, while staying at Morley's in-home day care. The infant's skull was fractured, both arms were broken, and his brain and spine also sustained injuries.

Prosecutors accused the woman — who was the only adult at the home that day — of grabbing the infant by his arms and slamming his head and body on a changing table. In his closing argument Monday, the chief criminal deputy attorney for the Weber County attorney's office pointed to the cracked changing table that had Lincoln's vomit on a strap as evidence that the woman caused the injuries.

"This case is every parent's worst nightmare," Branden Miles said. "These [infants] are the most fragile members of our society. They are completely defenseless."

But Bushell said in his closing argument that his client didn't inflict the fatal injuries. He instead said Lincoln could have been hurt by his own brother, then-3-year-old Boston, when Morley was out of the room for about 20 minutes.

Bushell said in an email to The Salt Lake Tribune on Tuesday that while the defense team respects the jury's decision, it disagrees with the verdict. He said the team "remains resolute" in Morley's innocence.

Lincoln was flown by medical helicopter to Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City. An scan showed that Lincoln had no brain activity. He was taken off life support on Feb. 27, and he died the next day.

 

 

 

 

 

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