In return for her guilty plea, a woman charged with Oklahoma domestic abuse in the death of her adopted son will be sentenced to life in prison.
The Details of the Case
Alibra R. Nichols, 33, was charged with child neglect, child abuse, enabling child abuse, and enabling child neglect for her role in the death of 3-year-old Larandon Nichols. She admitted that she hit the toddler with shoes, clothes hangers, switches, and a plastic bat in the days leading up to his July 11 death.
Nichols's live-in boyfriend, Donald Ray Miller has also been charged with domestic violence in Oklahoma County, but has not reached a plea agreement with prosecutors. Miller waived a preliminary hearing.
An autopsy report from the State Medical Examiner's Office revealed that Larandon Nichols died of sepsis caused by multiple blunt force trauma. Sepsis, is a severe infection which occurs in untreated injuries or wounds.
Emergency personnel who responded to Alibra Nichols's 911 call on July 11 found Larandon covered in bruises, scratches, and cuts. They said he appeared malnourished and emaciated. The toddler weighed only 18 pounds at the time of his death; by contrast, the average 3-year-old boy weighs 33 pounds.
No Murder Charges Forthcoming
Eighteen pounds is the average weight of a 7 or 8 month old baby. Alibra Nichols, whose weight is reported as 370 pounds, allegedly fell on top of the 18-pound Larandon a week before his death. Although Landon's injuries and neglect were quite severe, and it appears that the abuse played a role in the boy's death, prosecutors declined to charge his adoptive mother and her boyfriend with murder. (click here for more on murder charges defense in Oklahoma)
Prosecutors said that, in order to obtain a murder conviction, they would have to prove that the abuse was the cause of Larandon's death. Because he died of an infection, it has thus far been impossible to prove that the sepsis and Larandon's death were a direct result of the child abuse.
A neglect complaint was filed against Alibra Nichols in December 2007 that described her as "unresponsive" to Larandon's needs and that described the home as "cluttered," with diapers and clothing strewn about the backyard. DHS reports say an investigation revealed the home to be clean and uncluttered.
Oklahoma has recently taken further steps to protect victims of domestic abuse by passing new legislation.