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Woman goes to prison after child’s death

A former St. Francois County woman has been sentenced in connection with the death of a toddler.

On Monday, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Mark T. Stoll sentenced Melissa G. Minehart, 34, of De Soto, to 10 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and abuse of a child.

The sentence was what was recommended by the prosecutor’s office. The judge heard a statement from the child’s mother.

Minehart had originally been charged with second-degree murder, two counts of abuse of a child, and endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the death of 2-year-old Codi Aston.

Melissa Minehart was dating and living with 30-year-old Brian W. Aston, Codi’s father, in rural De Soto at the time of the girl’s death.

Aston and Pamela Minehart, Melissa Minehart’s mother, have been charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Aston has pleaded guilty and is scheduled for sentencing April 29. Pamela Minehart’s case is scheduled for a plea on the same date.

According to a probable cause statement, Melissa Minehart, who was living with her boyfriend and her mother, was the only person in the residence caring for the child on Feb. 2, 2005, when the child sustained injuries to her head. The child died the next day.

The doctor and the medical examiner told police the injury was not consistent with statements made by Melissa Minehart that the child fell.

The medical examiner told police the girl died from blunt head trauma. The examiner said the “severity of the injury was such that it would have rendered the victim immediately unresponsive.” The charge states Codi was “repeatedly injured as evidenced by bruising in various stages of healing.”

Melissa Minehart, when interviewed by police, said she did not injure the child.

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