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Jury finds Cynthia Baker guilty of killing 8-year-old stepdaughter

BLOOMINGTON (WEEK) — A jury has found Cynthia Baker guilty of first-degree murder in the death of her 8-year-old stepdaughter, Rica Rountree.

For the murder and aggravated battery charge, Baker was found guilty of committing the crimes in a heinous matter with want or cruelty.

The jury also found Baker guilty of aggravated battery, endangering the life of a child and all three counts of domestic battery.

Baker is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 3.

The deliberation lasted about five hours over two days. Baker’s jury trial was in its sixth day when the decision was made.

Cynthia Baker, 41, was facing 15 charges but prosecutors only pursued six in the death of Rountree. Those included, one count of murder, aggravated battery charges, and charges of domestic battery and endangering the life of a child.

On Monday, Cynthia Baker chose not to testify and her boyfriend, Richard Rountree, was not called to testify, as he was being interviewed by the McLean County Sheriff’s Office.

Prosecutors claimed Baker kicked Rica Rountree so hard in the stomach the child died as a result of her injuries.

Rica Rountree
Rica Rountree

In closing arguments Monday, prosecutors again showed videos and photos of abuse by Baker to the 8 year old. One video showed Baker kneeing the child in the back, then hitting the child’s head on a wall.

“For most, it’s unthinkable but for Rica, it was normal. In the 407 Stanhope residence, Rica was treated as less than as this defendant’s punching bag and her pain served as entertainment for the entire family,” said Erka Reynolds, McLean County assistant states attorney.

However, Baker’s defense attorneys in closing arguments said she was not guilty of murder beyond a reasonable doubt.

“She is 100 percent guilty of every domestic battery they charged her with. I’m her attorney and I’m telling you that. But those videos do not show aggravated battery, they do not show murder. They again show an offense she is accurately charged with,” defense attorney Todd Ringel said.

Rica Rountree died January 26, 2019 after she was transported to a Peoria hospital from normal for medical care on January 25.

Baker pleaded not guilty in May 2019, after she was arrested in April on murder, and several other, charges.

Previous articles of Cynthia Baker’s arrest, investigation and trial:

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