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Sugar Cookie

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Oct 30, 2018

A Billings woman was sentenced to the maximum possible prison term Tuesday for her role in the years of abuse that her stepson suffered.

Julie Rennie Mitchell, 41, was sentenced in Yellowstone County District Court on four felonies to 40 years in the Montana Women’s Prison, with a 15-year parole restriction.

At issue in the hearing was whether Julie Mitchell was a bystander who failed to intervene or an active participant in the roughly two and a half years of physical abuse inflicted on the child while he lived with the her and her husband, Cornelius Mitchell, the child’s biological father.

That abuse included starvation, broken ribs, a broken wrist and hundreds of other burns and lacerations, state witnesses testified.

The defense testified that Julie Mitchell did participate in some of the abuse but was more often a bystander, afraid of her husband, whom defense attorney Ashley Harada called “a monster.” Cornelius Mitchell would hurt both his wife and son when his wife tried to intervene in the child abuse, Harada said.

But the state called witnesses who said the physical abuse of the child continued even when Cornelius Mitchell was not home. They also testified that the child expressed fear of Julie Mitchell, and that Julie Mitchell gave inaccurate accounts of the child’s medical circumstances, including that his abnormal interactions with doctors were because he had autism.

“This is photo taken by law enforcement in May of 2017,” she said. "And this child’s eye and the body and the scarring, which included cigarette burns on his back, were reported by the defendant as being self-inflicted, self-harm, because he was autistic.”

Before handing down the sentence, Judge Mary Jane Knisely said Julie Mitchell had played more than “a passive standby” role in the abuse, and that putting her in prison was necessary to protect society.

Foster parents for the abused child testified the boy is now healthy, growing and making friends.
A Billings man has admitted charges in a child abuse case.

Cornelius Mitchell, 51, pleaded guilty Friday to three felonies in Yellowstone County District Court.

Mitchell brought his 6-year-old child to the hospital in 2017 because the boy was having seizures, prosecutors say. The child was then flown out of state for more extensive treatment, kickstarting a criminal investigation into the boy’s circumstances.

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What is going on with the shape of their heads?
their faces are so far forward!

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