Thursday, January 21, 2016

Step pleads guilty to murder in death of 4-year-old boy; custodial dad still out on bond (Clinton County, Missouri)

We've posted on this case before. As often happens, the courts set up wife number #2 as The Evil Step, while dad is cast as clueless and inept. It's bull. It's sometimes the case that mothers are prevented from protecting their children because of death threats or beatings. But not men. Yet battered women are routinely held responsible for "failing to protect" while fathers seldom are despite the typical absence of any factors that would prevent them from doing so.

Dad is identifed as JUSTIN WEBB. See the Killer Dads and Custody list for Missouri.

Webb pleads guilty to murder in child abuse case

Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2016 10:02 am | Updated: 10:08 am, Thu Jan 21, 2016.

By BECKY BLACK | Leader Editor

He would have been eight years old on January 3 – sharing his smile and energy at elementary school, playing in the snow, eating birthday cake. But Lucas Webb’s life was tragically cut short at the age of four because of child abuse and neglect.

The case against Melissa Webb has lingered in Clinton County since 2012 when she and her husband, Justin Webb, were charged with murder and child abuse after the death of Lucas. Justin was Lucas’ father; Melissa was his step-mother. Months became years as friends and loved ones begged for justice in Lucas’ name.

Last Tuesday, January 12, Melissa Webb appeared in Clinton County Circuit Court and pleaded guilty to both counts, just two weeks ahead of the start of her jury trial. In front of the Honorable Judge Brent Elliott, Melissa waived her right to testify and was sentenced to 20 years on Count I – Murder in the Second Degree, and 15 years on Count II – Abuse or Neglect of a Child. According to online court records, the sentencing recommendation stated the sentences would run concurrent, or at the same time. Melissa has been in custody since charged in 2012 and with credit for time served could spend a maximum of 17 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections. Assistant Attorney General for the State of Missouri Scott Fox worked the case as a special prosecutor for Clinton County. (The Leader made attempts to contact the Attorney General’s office for explanation of the sentencing, but Mr. Fox was not available for comment prior to press time.)

As the details still unfold surrounding Melissa and Justin’s plea agreements, the facts of the case still remain clear. Emergency responders were dispatched to the Webb home in Holt, Mo., on the afternoon of October 15, 2012, for an unresponsive child. Lucas was transported to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy revealed his death was due to blunt force trauma to the abdomen approximately 12-24 hours before his death. During their investigation, Clinton County officers found Lucas had made a statement to an adult in late August that his stomach hurt after his step-mother had kicked him because she was mad. This finding confirmed what the autopsy revealed. Lucas had sustained fractured ribs six to eight weeks prior to his death.

In 2013, The Kansas City Star reported the release of the Department of Social Services documents surrounding Lucas’ case. Despite multiple hotlines over a handful of years, five days prior to his death, state workers had closed their abuse and neglect case labeling it “sufficient parenting”. Justin and Melissa had an excuse for every concern presented. His cries for help were silenced.

Also in the Star’s 2013 report, Department of Social Services spokesperson Rebecca Woelfel said the case had been reviewed and it was determined that “staff members violated agency policy” and those two employees were no longer working for the agency.

Justin Webb is currently out on bond. He pleaded not guilty to the charges against him in 2014. All hearings for Justin have been canceled and nothing is scheduled. Social media posts on the “R.I.P. Lucas Webb” Facebook page state Melissa agreed to testify on Justin’s behalf as part of her plea.