New details in Normal 8-year-old’s murder show history of abuse

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NORMAL, Ill. — Additional charges have been filed against the woman McLean County authorities say is responsible for the death of an 8-year-old. 

The Prairieland Elementary School student was taken to a Normal hospital and then transferred to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria on Jan. 25, where she eventually died. The girl allegedly suffered from perforated intestines and peritonitis from blunt force trauma.

Cynthia Baker, 41, faces murder charges in the case. She was intially indicted for three counts of murder, one count of aggravated battery of a child and one count of aggravated domestic battery. 

Thursday, prosecutors sent down more charges, saying Baker, also known as Cynthia Clay, was abusing the girl before her death. There were 10 extra misdemeanor counts against the woman by the State’s Attorney’s office: eight counts of domestic battery and two counts of child endangerment.

Normal Chief of Police Rick Bleichner and States Attorney Don Knapp said the suspect allegedly kicked the victim in the abdomen, resulting in peritonitis due to intestinal perforation from blunt force trauma, with the intent to do “great bodily harm.” 

Prosecutor Erika Reynolds told a judge that Baker’s cell phone captured the abuse on video. It allegedly showed Baker slapping the girl last May, wrapping her hands around the child’s neck last August, kneeing her in the back and hitting the girl’s head against the wall last September.   

The child endangerment charges allege Baker sent the girl to school without a winter coat last October and refused to follow doctor’s orders to take her for X-rays.   

The Normal Police Department arrested Baker Wednesday after a grand jury indicted her on five felony counts, including murder.   

A judge on Thursday ordered Baker to be held on a $100,000 cash bond. Her attorney said Baker has no criminal record, will ask for a bond reduction, and he’s confident in his client’s innocence.

Baker could face up to 217 years in prison if found guilty of all charges. 

WJBC contributed to this report. 

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