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"Shared custody" with an abuser is basically the same as giving the abuser custody. Dad DONALD L. COCKRELL had shared custody of his two daughters, and he and his girlfriend had been keeping the girls with him since October, rarely allowing the mother to see them. Now we see that Daddy and his girlfriend are charged with murder by abuse in the death of the 3-year-old girl. The little girl died from "blunt force trauma" (i.e. beaten to death) and "acute starvation."
January 13, 2010 7:35 AM
Three-Year-Old Alexis Pounder Starved, Beaten to Death by Father and Girlfriend, Say Oregon Cops
Posted by Carlin DeGuerin Miller
SANDY, Ore. (CBS/AP) In a small town outside of Portland, three-year-old Alexis Pounder was found beaten to death and severely undernourished and Oregon police say her father and his girlfriend are responsible.
On Jan. 9, deputies responding to a disturbance call in Sandy, Ore., found Alexis Pounder's body - along with enough indicators to call in the Violent Crimes and Child Abuse teams.
They also found four other children living there, and removed them. The dead child's father is identified as 27-year-old Donald L. Cockrell. He was staying at the home with his girlfriend, 24-year-old Michele Nicole Smith.
Cockrell and Smith were arraigned on murder by abuse charges, but did not enter pleas during Monday's Clackamas County Circuit Court hearing. They asked Judge Robert Herndon to provide them with lawyers, and are being held without bail.
"There's really no words to explain what it's like for me. I try to find the words and I can't - my worst nightmare," the girl's biological mother, Heather Pounder, told CBS affiliate KOIN on Monday.
Heather Pounder says Alexis and their other daughter had been staying with Cockrell and Smith since October. She says they had shared custody of Alexis but that Cockrell would rarely let her see the child.
The last time she saw Alexis was Dec. 12, she said.
"She had a weight problem, I had been taking her to the doctor," Pounder said. "As far as I know so had they and the doctor talked to us about different stuff with getting her weight up. She had a problem where she didn't want to eat and her weight was really low."
"You know we were working with her, but I guess I don't know what happened over there. I don't know if one of them just snapped or what," Pounder said.
Court documents describe little Alexis Pounder's death as being due to "blunt force trauma" and "acute starvation." The Oregon state medical examiner's office says she died of physical and nutritional child abuse.