CLAY COUNTY, Mo. – The first hearing takes place in Clay County this morning, in a Ray County child death case overturned by the Missouri Court of Appeals.

Dennis Judson Matthews, 31, pleaded guilty in September of 2016 (when he was 29) to abuse of a child resulting in death, two counts of abuse of a child and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree. Matthews was sentenced to life in prison for the death and seven years on each of the other charges.  Rebecca Matthews, 29, his wife, was found guilty and sentenced to 40 years in prison for her part in the death of their three week old daughter in 2012, and the abuse of two other children.

Rebecca Matthews was the first to have her sentence overturned, when the Court of Appeals ruled that Prosecutors inappropriately brought up several reptiles in cages and pools at the residence during closing arguments in the case. A motion for appointment of a special prosecutor has been filed in the case.

The hearing begins at 9:30 a.m. this morning in Clay County, where the case was moved by a change of venue.