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Pixley sentence upheld on appeal


LIVINGSTON -- The conviction and stacked 60- year prison sentence given to Amanda Darlene Pixley, 28, of Moscow was upheld by the Ninth Texas Court of Appeals in Beaumont in a ruling handed down Wednesday, Sept. 20. The sentence was originally issued by 258th District Court Judge E.L. McClendon in December 2015 after Pixley had pled "no contest" to three counts of sexual assault of a child stemming from allegations she had engaged in an ongoing sexual relationship with a 16-year-old male victim at her home near Moscow. During the contested sentencing hearing, Polk County District Attorney Lee Hon presented the testimony of multiple witnesses regarding Pixley's prior involvement in the abuse and death of her 21-month-old half-sister, Katlynn LeAnn Pixley, who had been placed in the defendant's care in 2009. Following a lengthy and ongoing investigation by the Polk County Sheriff's Department and the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services into Pixley's involvement in the child's death, the matter had been referred to the Polk County Criminal District Attorney's Office without charges being filed for grand jury review. However, while the earlier investigation remained in progress, in September of 2012 it was reported that Pixley had become involved in an ongoing sexual relationship with an underage male at her home. Upon questioning by Polk County Sheriff's Lieutenant Craig Finegan, Pixley admitted to the sexual relationship resulting in her arrest on three new felony charges. During the punishment hearing before the court, Hon presented the testimony of Dr. Jennifer Ross, a medical examiner with the Harris County Medical Examiner's Office, who testified that she performed the autopsy on 21-month-old child on Jan. 14, 2010 after she died at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston the day before. Ross testified her initial examination revealed 25 blunt force injuries to the head and face including some with a linear pattern consistent with "a foreign object struck against the head." Ross also observed three bruises to the neck, 11 bruises on the back and 27 bruises to the extremities. In response to Hon's questioning, Ross testified that most of the bruises appeared to have occurred on the same date but that there was evidence of "chronic abuse" with some bruises of older age. In total, there were over 50 external bruises or abrasions. Ross classified the cause of death as a homicide. In addition to Ross' testimony, Hon presented multiple witnesses including Katlynn Pixley's younger sister who recalled the events leading up to the child's death and Amanda Pixley's exclusive custody of Katlynn prior to the child's injuries. At the conclusion of the hearing, Hon argued and the judge agreed that the circumstances of the sexual assault offenses when coupled with Pixley's involvement in her younger sister's death warranted a maximum 20-year sentence on each of the three charges which were permitted to be "stacked" or served consecutively under Texas law. This resulted in the sixty-year sentence that was assessed. Following sentencing, Pixley had appealed the conviction and sentence. According to Hon, the sentence is the equivalent of a life sentence in prison. In regard to the decision of the Beaumont Court of Appeals, Hon remarked that "hopefully this will close the final chapter to this sad and horrific saga and allow the survivors of Katlynn Pixley to move forward in their lives. While nothing can replace the loss of this beautiful child, hopefully some measure of justice was served."


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