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The original item was published from 6/7/2023 10:26:06 AM to 9/8/2023 12:00:00 AM.

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District Attorney

Posted on: June 7, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Court Reduces Felony Child Abuse Conviction to Misdemeanor

Tuolumne County District Attorney Cassandra Jenecke announces that, following a jury verdict of guilty to felony corporal injury to a child, the Court reduced that conviction to a misdemeanor.

On May 15, 2022, the Sonora Police Department and Tuolumne County Child Welfare responded to Sonora Elementary to investigate a suspected child abuse report (SCAR). The 7-year-old Confidential Victim (CV) arrived to school with bruising to the front and back of her ear. CV described to the investigating social workers and police officers that the bruising was caused by repeated “smacks” to her head by Defendant Lili Powell. CV was later interviewed in a forensic interview that is conducted by a social worker and observed via closed circuit television by investigating officers, social workers, and the District Attorney's Office. During that subsequent interview, CV again described how the bruising was caused by Ms. Powell “smacking” CV in the head while they were driving in the car together. Ms. Powell was interviewed during the investigation and provided two different explanations as to how CV received the bruise, neither of which included any involvement by her.

This case was tried before a jury on May 15, 2023. During the trial, CV (now 8 years old) testified as to the abuse she suffered. The jury convicted Ms. Powell of felony corporal injury to a child, in violation of Penal Code section 273d(a).

During Ms. Powell’s interview with the Probation Department, she provided a third explanation of how CV received the injury, again denying any involvement.

At the sentencing hearing on June 1, 2023, Judge Kevin M. Seibert reduced the felony charge to a misdemeanor pursuant to Penal Code section 17(b). The District Attorney’s Office opposed the reduction, citing Ms. Powell’s continued denial of any wrongdoing and lack of accountability. The Court did not provide an explanation as to the basis for reducing the charge to a misdemeanor but did indicate that the court believed it to be misdemeanor conduct after hearing the evidence.

This case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Kate Christie. CV was assisted through the court process by Victim Advocate Hollie Brown. The District Attorney’s Office would like to thank our partner agencies who were instrumental in the prosecution of this case, specifically including Social Worker Amy Walker, Supervising Social Worker Reiko Craig, Corporal Thomas Brickley, and Corporal Michael Paulsen.

We would also like to commend CV for her bravery in disclosing her abuse to law enforcement, child welfare services, and ultimately, before a jury.

For more information, please contact Deputy District Attorney Kate Christie at (209) 588 - 5450. 

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