court-hearing

CLAY COUNTY, Mo. – A Richmond man has been sentenced to life in prison on seven felony charges in connection with the abuse and neglect of his eight-month-old son, five-year-old daughter, and three-week-old daughter who died in 2012.

Court records show Dennis Judson Matthews, 29, pleaded guilty September 28, 2016, 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.

Monday, Matthews was sentenced to life in prison on Count I: abuse of a child resulting in death, and seven years each on the remaining charges.

His wife, Rebecca Matthews was found guilty and sentenced earlier this year to over 40 years in prison.

The baby died August 17, 2012, as a result of blunt force trauma to her chest and abdomen, which lacerated her heart and liver. Doctors determined after the death of the baby that she had multiple fractured ribs that were in various stages of healing.

Doctors testified at trial that the numerous fractures to the infant’s ribs were consistent with the infant being squeezed.

Rebecca Matthews was convicted of endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree for failing to get medical care for the baby when she stopped breathing after her ribs were fractured. Rebecca was also convicted of acting alone or in concert with Dennis Matthews, her husband, for:

  • Abusing her five-year-old daughter by hitting her and causing bruises.
  • Abuse of a child for breaking the arm of her eight-month-old son.
  • Three counts of endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree for leaving her five-year-old daughter, 23-month-old daughter, and eight-month-old son in a vehicle where temperatures were over 100 degrees.
  • Three counts of endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree for failing to provide her children with adequate milk, formula, or food, causing malnutrition.

“This was an appalling case that reminds us how vulnerable children are to the people responsible for taking care of them,” Koster said. “My hope is that the children who survived this horrific start to their lives will now be cared for by loving, responsible adults.”

The surviving children are currently in foster care.