An Independence man will spend the next 15 years in prison for the abuse and death of his own 10-week-old daughter last May.
On Monday, Alex Gilbert, 25, was sentenced in Lafayette County after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter back in March. According to the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office, authorities were called to a residence on Linn Road in Bates City on May 17th, 2013 where they discovered the infant, Brenlee Gilbert turning blue. Every attempt was made to resuscitate the child but she was eventually declared brain dead later that day at Children’s Mercy Hospital. After family made their peace Brenlee was taken off life support.
The investigation uncovered a pattern of abuse including bone fractures and severe head trauma.
At his sentencing Gilbert said he accepted responsibility for the infant’s death. his guilt and will serve out the full-term.
Press Release from the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office
Lexington, Missouri May 7, 2014
On May 5, 2014, Alex Gilbert, 25, of Independence, Missouri, was sentenced to 15 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections by the Honorable Dennis Rolf after having entered a plea of guilty to the charge of Voluntary Manslaughter on March 17, 2014. After presenting evidence, Kristen Ellis, Lafayette County Prosecutor argued that Alex Gilbert should receive the maximum penalty available.
On May 17, 2013, deputies from the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to 3879 Linn Road, Bates City, Missouri, for a report of a non-breathing infant. Upon arrival, the deputies found a ten week old baby identified as Brenlee Gilbert, turning blue. Deputies asked that EMS expedite to that location and then provided aid until the ambulance could arrive. Brenlee Gilbert was first transported to St. Mary’s Hospital and then transported from there to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. Brenlee was kept on life support for three days until it was officially determined that she was brain dead. Family members were able to say their goodbyes and then life support was removed. Brenlee Gilbert was pronounced dead on May 20, 2013.
Doctors at Children’s Mercy had already informed law enforcement that they suspected that Brenlee had been abused by an adult and that those injuries had led to her death. The autopsy confirmed those suspicions. Dr. Diane Peterson of the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office performed the autopsy and found that Brenlee had sustained numerous injuries. She found that Brenlee had multiple contusions of the skin, multiple recent and healing rib fractures, fractures of the left humerus, left ulna, right femur, right tibia, right fibula, left femur, left tibia and left fibula. She had hemorrhaged along the posterior aspect of the vertebral column and had contusions of the left lung. Brenlee had sustained such severe trauma as to cause a mid-line shift of the brain. The final cause of death was noted to be abusive head trauma. Abusive head trauma is a term to indicate shaking and/or blunt force trauma of the head, thus causing death. In this case, evidence of both were found to exist.
Numerous adults lived in the household where Brenlee resided with her siblings, mother, father, grandmother, grandfather and an uncle. Because Brenlee was a ten week old baby, investigators had to develop a time line showing who had access to Brenlee during the time frame in which the injuries were inflicted. The investigation led to the arrest of Alex Gilbert, the biological father of Brenlee Gilbert.
When Alex Gilbert appeared before Judge Dennis Rolf for sentencing on May 5, 2014, he said he was ready to take responsibility. In his own words, he said “I did a heinous thing, I took a life”.
Family members and a number of deputies sat in the courtroom in support of the diligent and caring work that Prosecutor Kristen Ellis put in on this case. She had to make tough decisions so that the victim would receive justice without the family being re-victimized. She brought Brenlee into the courtroom with her arguments and stood strong when emphasizing the fact that the sentencing hearing was about Brenlee and not about Alex Gilbert. She asked for the maximum and that is what Alex Gilbert received.
This case was personal to those deputies and detectives that were involved in the case. I feel lucky, as Sheriff, that we have a prosecutor we can trust in cases such as this.