St. Louis woman sentenced 78 years in prison for waterboarding her children
A St. Louis woman was sentenced Friday to 78 years in prison after admitting to beating, whipping and waterboarding her children in a prolonged pattern of abuse that prosecutors described as "systematic torture."
Lakechia Schonta Stanley, 34, of St. Louis, faced 34 felonies, including multiple counts of assault and endangering the welfare of a child, for the abuse which was reported to a school librarian in October 2011.
One of the children, then 10 years old, had gone to school complaining of severe pain in her arm. Prosecutors say the girl revealed Stanley had beaten her with a baseball bat because she had not cleaned the kitchen quickly enough. The girl told the librarian that her sister, then age 8, was also beaten with a bat because she had taken too long to shower.
When the librarian examined the girl's arm she found it cold and hard to the touch, according to prosecutors. The girl was treated at the hospital, where it was determined that her arm had been subjected to such trauma that the blood supply to the limb was restricted.
According to prosecutors, interviews with the girls revealed prolonged abuse in which they had been waterboarded, whipped with electrical cords, forced into scalding or freezing showers, and beaten with an array of blunt objects. Further investigation revealed significant scarring on all three of the women's children, prosecutors said, and even worse emotional trauma.
"What the defendant did to three of her own children far exceeds the definition of child abuse and amounts to systematic torture," assistant circuit attorney Tanja Engelhardt wrote in a sentencing memorandum for the judge. "She was supposed to be their mother, the one person they could trust. Instead she became a symbol of betrayal and fear, using every tool at her disposal to beat and torture her own innocent children."