Jury Finds Tahlequah Woman Guilty Of Murdering Toddler
TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma - A Cherokee County foster parent is found guilty of murder after a two-year old girl died in her care last December. Jurors deliberated for five hours Thursday before coming up with the verdict.
Jurors recommended a life sentence for Delila Pacheco, and the mother of two-year-old Alysa Horney is happy the case has come to an end.
Family members are still coming to grips with the crime that put Pacheco in handcuffs.
"She basically had a night of hell before she ended up passing away,” said Alysa's mother Holly Horney.
Alysa's stepfather, Clint Montgomery said, "It was a lot more brutal than we ever expected it to be. We found out a lot sitting in the trial more than, it was a lot worse than we ever imagined."
Pacheco was Alysa's foster mother and last December, first responders found Alysa dead in a Cherokee County home.
Prosecutors said the Medical Examiner's report showed the girl died of repeated physical abuse.
"The injuries that this child received were horrible. She had 40 different bruises and scrapes just on the outside, but she received blunt force trauma to her abdomen that lacerated her liver that caused internal bleeding. It was one of the worst injuries I've ever seen in years and years of trying murder cases," said Prosecutor Jack Thorp.
Alysa's family members endured months of uncertainty, and four days of graphic testimony.
"It's just been really nerve racking the past year, and now I feel like Alysa can be at rest knowing what she went through," Holly said.
Alysa's grandmother, Betty Adair, felt relieved after jurors returned a guilty verdict.
"I was so afraid that we wouldn't get justice, but the system worked, it really did. Our prayers were answered," she said.
Thorp said, "I think this jury sent a message, hopefully, to these folks out there that child abuse is wrong and child abuse can be murder, and in this case this child abuse was murder."
Again, the jury recommended life in prison for Pacheco. A date for formal sentencing is still being worked out.