Audrain County Prosecuting Attorney Jacob Shellabarger announced last week that Johnetta Elizabeth Salmon, age 21, of Vandalia, Mo., was found guilty of Endangering the Welfare of a Child in the First Degree. Salmon was found not guilty of Child Neglect or Child Abuse.
The jury found Salmon guilty after deliberating for about two hours after the two-day trial at the Audrain County Courthouse in Mexico.
Salmon, who will be sentenced by Circuit Judge Wesley C. Dalton on August 1, faces a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment after the jury recommended a three year sentence to Judge Dalton.
Salmon is the co-defendant to Monte Ashcraft, the baby’s father, who was convicted on May 17 for abuse of a child and endangering the welfare of a child. His sentencing begins on July 22.
Shellabarger and As-sistant Prosecuting Attorney Andrew Rehmer tried the case May 16 and 17 to an Audrain County jury of six women and six men.
“Johnetta Salmon starved a helpless three-month old baby that she was supposed to love, nurture, protect, and care for,” Shellabarger said. “In this case, Salmon and the baby’s father 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. The baby’s arm was broken, and his ribs were broken, consistent with the baby being a battered child. Ms. Salmon looked to blame others for her actions – her friends, family, even the doctors at SSM Audrain and the University of Missouri, and took no responsibility on herself whatsoever. She was always looking for someone or something to blame for her abusive, neglectful, and painful actions, which caused this baby to suffer. 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 Ms. Salmon ever again. It’s an important message that, unfortunately, must be said often: parenting is a privilege and a responsibility, one where mistakes and neglect can carry a fatal consequence. This child’s broken arm may have saved his life, because it led to urgent medical intervention that gave him a chance to grow and develop as a healthy boy. 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 and Children’s Hospital, SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital–Audrain, the Audrain County Juvenile Office, 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.”
Co-defendant and the child’s father Monte Ashcraft was convicted of Endangering the Welfare of a Child in the First Degree and Abuse of a Child involving this same victim during a trial held May 16-17 in Audrain County.
Ashcraft’s sentencing is scheduled for July 22. The case number is 14AU-CR00727-01.
Salmon’s case number is 14AU-CR00728-01.