Caden McWilliam’s mother sentenced to 32 years in prison for horrific abuse that led to 7-year-old’s death

The mother of a Denver elementary school student will spend up to 32 years in prison for failing to protect her son from horrific abuse and for helping to hide the boy’s body by filling the dog crate the boy died in with cement.

Elisha Pankey, 44, was sentenced to the maximum punishment allowed under the plea deal she signed for the death of Caden McWilliams, who was 7 years when he died in July 2018. Her husband, Leland Pankey, was sentenced in February to 72 years in prison after pleading guilty to child abuse resulting in death and tampering with a deceased human body.

“I don’t see evil as some abstract thing, as something that generally exists in this world,” Denver District Court Judge A. Bruce Jones said. “I see evil in the hearts and minds of people. And what happened to Caden was evil.”

Pankey took full responsibility for her part in Caden’s death, her defense attorney said Wednesday during the hearing. Pankey’s life spiraled out of control in the year before Caden died, she said.

“It was the perfect storm of constant domestic violence, mental health issues and drug addiction,” a defense attorney said.

Pankey did not speak during the sentencing hearing but did submit a letter to the judge, which was not read in court.

During Pankey’s sentencing and the February sentencing of her husband Leland Pankey, family members and attorneys painted a picture of an abusive relationship, where Elisha Pankey lived in constant fear of her husband and did not stop his severe abuse of the boy. Leland Pankey physically abused Caden, including forcing the boy to sleep in a dog crate and telling his wife to refer to the child as “Dog.”

Caden died in July 2018 after being forced to sleep in the crate. He was severely emaciated, had a broken arm and fractured skull as well as traces of methamphetamine and cocaine in his body, a coroner found. The boy’s entombed body was discovered in December 2018 after investigators searched the Pankeys’ storage unit.

Pankey’s extended family asked for the maximum sentence in court Wednesday. They said that Pankey knew she could’ve called any of them for help, even though the Pankeys stopped communicating with family in 2016.

“I find myself waking up and wondering what I could have done different,” said Martha McWilliams, Caden’s maternal grandmother.

It is likely that Pankey will serve far less than the full 32 years because of how Colorado’s justice system works, Jones said.

“Unlike Caden, you do have a life in front of you and I hope it will be something that will turn into a positive given what has happened that has been so horrible in the past,” the judge said.

Source: Read Full Article