KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A jury has found Jacole Prince, a 32-year-old Kansas City mother, guilty of child endangerment, first degree assault and child abuse for keeping her 10-year-old daughter in a closet.
Attorneys finished their closing arguments Friday morning and the judge sent the case to the jury to deliberate just after 12 p.m. FOX 4's Dave D'Marko reports the jury recommended sentences for each of the three counts on Friday night. They recommended 7 years each for child abuse and endangerment, and 20 years for first-degree assault where the state was seeking 30. A judge will finalize Prince's sentences at a later date, and while the judge can't add any years to the recommended sentences, he could lower the amount and will determine if they run consecutively or concurrently.
To protect her identity, the child is known to the Kansas City community as "LP". She weighed only 32 lbs when she was found and removed from her mother's care in the summer of 2012. LP wrote a letter for Prince, which was displayed in court on Friday.
Prosecutors say Prince kept her daughter in a closet inside their home in the 1300 block of Highland Ave. When police opened the closet door, they say they found the girl squashed in the closet and covered in urine and feces. According to court documents and testimony, police noticed a portable crib pushed next to two closet doors that were tied off with a small rope in one room. Officers asked, "Is anyone in here?" Then they heard a child's voice answer, "Yes." Officers had to slide the crib out of the way and use a pocket knife to cut the rope.
All week, jurors have been listening to testimony from both sides of the case. Friday morning, the prosecution's final witness took the stand in Jackson County Court.
Dr. Steven Mandracchia has evaluated Jacole Prince four times. The doctor testified that he found Prince to be cooperative, polite, reasonable and of average intelligence. He said Prince told him that people told her to 'act crazy' when she was arrested and to say she heard voices and had hallucinations, in order to get a better placement in a correctional facility.
"My conclusion is she's not suffering from any mental disease or defect or any psychological condition that would have prevented her from forming the intended requisite for these offenses," he said.
At the time of Prince's arrest, neighbors said they were surprised. One neighbor said she had lived near Prince for three to four years, but never knew Prince had a third child. The other two daughters, who were 2-years-old and an 8-years-old at the time of her arrest, were taken into protective custody.
After Dr. Mandracchia testified as the prosecution's final rebuttal witness, both sides spent about 30 minutes on their closing arguments. The jury then received the case and left the courtroom to begin deliberations.