2010-12-16 / Front Page

McKee Sentenced In Baby’s Death

Found guilty in Oct. trial of first-degree child abuse resulting in death
STAFF REPORT

Nicholas McKee Nicholas McKee A Warfordsburg area man convicted of first-degree child abuse resulting in death maintained his innocence during sentencing proceedings held last Wednesday before a courtroom of onlookers.

Washington County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Dwyer sentenced Nicholas Ray McKee of 453 Flickerville Road on December 8 to a total of 30 years for the first-degree child abuse charge as well as an additional 10 years for involuntary manslaughter. The manslaughter sentence also carries a five-year suspension, bringing McKee’s prison term to 35 years.

Additional charges of seconddegree assault and reckless endangerment carry a concurrent or simultaneous sentence.

McKee’s parents, John Mc- Kee and Anita McKee, both addressed Judge Dwyer, asking for leniency and posed scenarios regarding how their granddaughter, 5-week-old Bella Appel-McKee, may have suffered the fatal brain injuries on January 3 while in McKee’s care.

Friends and family of the victim and victim’s mother, Jordan Appel, also spoke before the court. Some focused on all of the first-time events they would never see such as Bella taking her first steps, while others asked McKee to confess so they could have closure, according to reports published in The Herald Mail.

McKee, 23, was found guilty of all charges during a three-day bench trial held in October. During the trial, Appel testified she had initially considered taking baby Bella to her grandmother’s for dinner on January 3. Due to the cold weather and the baby having a slight cold, Appel stated she opted to leave her daughter with McKee at the residence they had begun sharing at 139 Washington Street in Hancock, Md. Around 30 minutes later, Appel returned to the home after hearing emergency responders were at the residence.

Bella was eventually transported to Children’s National Medical Center located in Washington, D.C., where she died six days later on January 9. Injuries suffered by the baby ranged from extensive cranial hemorrhaging and fractures to the rear of her skull to hemorrhaging to the optic nerve sheathing and retinas.

While the expert testimony provided by an array of doctors was at time conflicting, the experts on behalf of the prosecution testified the injuries sustained were “consistent” with those received by shaking or slamming into a hard surface.

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