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Attorney General's News Release

February 15, 2013

Attorney General Koster obtains guilty plea for involuntary manslaughter in death of infant

Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today said that a Pilot Knob woman, Martha Farris, has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter for the death of an infant she cared for in her home babysitting business.

According to the Attorney General’s Office, Farris was watching six children under the age of four, including three-month-old Sam Pratt, at her home in February 2009. Farris called 911 after finding the three-month-old boy unresponsive, and the child died one hour later. Autopsy results revealed that he died of non-accidental closed-head trauma. Farris admitted in interviews with law enforcement that she had swung him, “plunked” him down hard on the couch, and elbowed him in the head. Farris pleaded guilty in court to a Class C felony charge of involuntary manslaughter.

“This was a terrible tragedy that forever changed the lives of this child’s family,” Koster said. “While no court judgment can ever repair the damage to Sam’s family, Ms. Farris’s guilty plea spares them from having to relive the details of their son’s death in a lengthy trial.”

After Farris’s guilty plea, the court ordered a sentencing assessment report to be prepared by the Board of Probation and Parole. Sentencing is scheduled for May 3.

The Attorney General’s Office was named Special Prosecutor in the case. The case was investigated by the Pilot Knob Police Department, the State Technical Assistance Team, Iron County Children’s Division and the Iron County Juvenile Office. Judge Kelly W. Parker presided over the case.

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