DA: Ore. couple murdered 1 child, tortured another

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by KGW News

NWCN.com

Posted on January 12, 2010 at 11:00 AM

SANDY, Ore. -- A 27-year-old Sandy man was charged Monday with murdering one of his children and torturing another.

Clackamas County prosecutors alleged that Donald Cockrell, along with his fiancee, 24-year-old Michelle Smith killed 3-year-old Alexis Pounder by physically abusing her and starving her to death.

New charges, revealed during an arraignment hearing, alleged that Cockrell and Smith also assaulted and tortured another child, Pounder's sister, according to Assistant District Attorney Christine Landers.

The new allegations involving a second child Cockrell fathered came from court documents that described Alexis Pounder's death as due to "blunt force trauma" and "acute starvation."

Michelle Smith was not the biological mother of either child; however, the family lived with Smith's parents on SE Cottontail Lane in Sandy, where on Saturday night Clackamas sheriff's deputies discovered the dead body of little Alexis Pounder.

Michelle Smith had three children of her own that lived with her and Cockrell. In all, the couple had custody of five children - all minors under 14 years old - and the surviving ones were taken by the Oregon Department of Human Services into state custody, Sheriff's Detective Jim Strovink said.

Cockrell and Smith were charged Sunday night with Pounder's murder; bail requests were denied. Neither had a criminal record according to the state.

Monday, they were arraigned on two counts each involving the neglect, abuse and death of children - one count each of murder by abuse and one count each of torturing a child - though prosecutors did not seek Measure 11 penalties and instead described the crimes as "unclassified felonies."

A neighbor said he "had no idea what was going on" in the Smith household. "I know I've got a three-year-old grandson, and I cannot fathom something like this," Larry Ulrich said.

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