Trial begins for woman accused of beating, killing her boyfriend’s daughter

Local News

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The murder trial for the Normal woman accused of beating her boyfriend’s 8-year-old daughter to death began Tuesday.

Cynthia M. Baker, 42, was arrested in April. She is accused of fatally kicking her boyfriend’s daughter, Rica Rountree, in the stomach, which led to massive internal injuries that eventually killed her. Additionally, the child’s autopsy results showed multiple scars, which indicated a months-long span of abuse.

Baker was dating the girl’s father at the time. She was indicted for three counts of murder, one count of aggravated battery of a child, and one count of aggravated domestic battery. 

Baker told a judge on Tuesday she’s not interested in any kind of plea deal and there is no decision yet on whether or not she’ll testify during her trial. But for now, attorneys are in the process of picking the jurors who will decide her guilt or innocence.

In hearings leading up to the start of the trial, prosecutors told a judge that videos from Baker’s cell phone show her kneeing the girl in the back, hitting her head against a wall, and other incidents of abuse. Baker is also accused of ignoring a doctor’s orders to take Rountree for x-rays. If she’s convicted on all counts, the judge could sentence Baker to more than 200 years in prison.

The trial is expected to last two weeks. Jury selection is expected to last at least the rest of the day.

Rountree died at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria on Jan. 25. She went to Prairieland Elementary School.

Follow along with live updates from the McLean County Courthouse.

This story will be updated.

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