Co-defendant in Elmore Child Abuse case
Montgomery, AL – The co-defendant in a high profile Elmore County child abuse case has been convicted in Florida.
Scott. T. Hicks, 39, of Wetumpka, was convicted in a Bay County, Florida courtroom on Wednesday, the Panama City News Herald reports. District Attorney Randall Houston confirmed the convictions. His office and the district attorney’s office in Bay County, Florida have worked closely together on the cases, he said.
A jury took about 90 minutes Wednesday afternoon to convict Hicks of aggravated child abuse, two counts of child neglect causing great bodily harm and leaving a child unattended in a motor vehicle, according to the News Herald. Hicks is set for sentencing on Dec. 2, and could face a maximum of life in prison, the newspaper reports.
Local officials will be watching his sentencing closely, Houston said.
“It looks like they did a great job in presenting the case,” Houston said. “We worked very closely together, sharing evidence. Prosecutors from their office were in Wetumpka when Hallee McLeod was sentenced last month.
“If he is sentenced to a lengthy prison term in Florida, we will likely not prosecute on our local charges. My view is, if he gets a stiff enough punishment down there, let Florida pay for his upkeep in prison.”
McLeod, 29 and also of Wetumpka, is the mother of the then 4-year-old child who is the victim in the case. She was sentenced in October to 20 years, the maximum punishment, on aggravated child abuse and chemical endangerment of a child charges.
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Hicks, McLeod’s boyfriend, has been indicted on the same charges in Elmore County, courthouse records show. Hicks is not the boy’s father, Houston said.
In the wake of the case, Houston spearheaded the passage of “Winston’s Law” named after the victim. The law increased the penalty for aggravated child abuse cases involving a victim under 6-years-old to a Class A felony with a punishment range of 20 to 99 years to life in prison.
Winston, now 6, has made a “remarkable,” recovery, Houston said.
The case goes back to Sept. of 2015 when Winston was found unresponsive in the back of a car parked at the Bay County, Florida courthouse in Panama City, Fla. Deputies found the child as Hicks was clearing up some unrelated charges there. The child was found to be dehydrated and suffering from physical abuse.
An investigation by the Elmore County Sheriff’s Office found the abuse occurred in Elmore County. At the time, Sheriff Bill Franklin called the case “… the worst I have ever seen.”