Last Tuesday, a Mexico, Mo. man was found guilty for severely injuring a 3-month-old infant after a two-day trial at the Audrain County Courthouse.
Monte Ashcraft, age 32, was convicted for acting with another individual in denying the baby adequate nutrition and starving him into malnutrition and failure to thrive.
The baby had three rib fractures and a complete break on his forearm. Fortunately, the child, now 2 1/2 years old, has fully recovered from his injuries.
Sentencing will be held on July 22.
According to a press release from Audrain County Prosecuting Attorney Jacob Shellabarger, Ashcraft was found guilty of Child Abuse with Serious Physical Injury and Endangering the Welfare of a Child in the First Degree. The jury found Miller guilty after deliberating for about three hours. Ashcraft faces a minimum of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of 22 years imprisonment.
Shellabarger and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Andrew Rehmer tried the case May 16-17 to an Audrain County jury of nine women and three men.
“Monte Ashcraft hurt a helpless three-month old baby that he was supposed to protect and nurture,” Shellabarger said. “In this case, Ashcraft and the baby’s mother failed to feed the baby an adequate amount of formula – an average of three bottles a day, if that, during the first three months of his life, crucial to development. They lied to their pediatrician, and by three months of age, he was seriously malnourished. Ashcraft broke the baby’s arm by picking him up by the arm, and failed to seek medical treatment for the baby’s injuries, repeatedly injuring and re-injuring the baby over a three-day period. The baby’s ribs were also broken in a pattern consistent with being squeezed with a lot of force. He looked to blame others for his actions, and took no responsibility, always looking for someone or something to blame for his abusive, painful actions, which caused this baby to suffer excruciating pain from broken ribs and broken forearm…Thanks to this jury’s decision, which I commend them for, a clear message has been sent to abusers: we will find you, we will thoroughly investigate your case, and you will be prosecuted fully, fairly and without hesitation. Fortunately, this child is now in a safe home with a loving, caring family and is protected from being hurt from Mr. Ashcraft ever again. The multidisciplinary team cooperative approach to working child abuse and neglect cases yields better results for victims. This case brought together the Mexico Public Safety Department, Audrain County Children’s Division, Missouri State Technical Assistance Team from the Department of Health and Senior Services, University of Missouri Women’s & Children’s Hospital, SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital–Audrain, Audrain County Children’s Division, local pediatricians, and my office to provide a clear, consistent and thorough investigation, and prosecution with the safety of the baby and the community first. It is the team concept of experience, knowledge and combined resources allowed this case to be fully investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and allowing justice to prevail for this family.
I particularly wish to recognize Detective S.J. Thompson of Mexico Public Safety for his exceptional dedication, dogged pursuit of the truth and discovery of evidence vital to the jury’s decision, and professionalism throughout this challenging case.”