The father and the stepmom pleaded guilty in court to second-degree murder for the death of 8-year-old Autumn H. who died last summer from asphyxiation, KSTP reported. Both of them will hear the sentence in September and they face up to 40 years in prison each.
The online court records confirm that the father, identified as 31-year-old Jason H., and the stepmom, identified as 29-year-old Sarah. H., who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder could face 40 years in prison each for the death of Autumn last August.
Investigators discovered that the parents abused the little girl in their apartment, often tying the girl up if they felt she had misbehaved. While she was tied up next to the wall, the parents allegedly didn’t feed her for days and the girl weighed only 33 pounds when she was found dead.
Deputies responded to a 911 call in regards of an unresponsive girl and the victim was found face-down in a bathtub with a number of head wounds when they arrived. The dead body was discovered in her Minnesota apartment on August 13, 2020, but the autopsy showed that Autumn has been dead for almost a week prior to that day.
Jason and Sarah were initially charged with first-degree manslaughter and second-degree murder, but the filed not guilty pleas. However, in late June the couple acknowledged abusing Autumn and causing her death.
Prosecutors in court provided new evidence, including surveillance video which shows how the couple mistreated and abused the little girl days and weeks leading up to her death. Prosecutors had contemplated upgrading the murder charges to first-degree counts.
Following the new, upgraded charges, the couple pleaded guilty to several new charges for abusing the little girl’s brother and another child who was also living with them. Sarah in tears described the period prior to Autumn’s death, admitting how she and her husband both assaulted the girl in the bathroom, where she spent the last days of her life, locked, without food, water or medicine.
“I feel like them taking a plea deal for less time was kind of the coward’s way out, but also I liked that they were admitting some guilty and I knew part of what happened at least,” Sarah’s mother said.
Meanwhile, she filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Sherburne County Child Protection Services and the Elk River Police Department allegedly for not doing enough to protect the girl, her brother and the other child.
An autopsy on Autumn’s remains showed puncture wounds on her head as well as abdominal and brain bleeding. Her hips and hands also showed signs of bruising.