A Florida babysitter who pleaded no contest over 30 years ago to attempted murder of a baby she was watching has now been charged with murder after the victim died in 2019.
In 1985, Terry McKirchy pleaded no contest to attempted murder for shaking then-5-month-old Benjamin Dowling so severely that he suffered a brain hemorrhage, according to the Associated Press. She was sentenced to spending weekends in jail for three months and three years on probation. Dowling was left with permanent mental and physical disabilities.
In 2019, at 35 years old, Dowling died, according to his obituary. Now, McKirchy has been charged with his murder.
McKirchy was taken into custody near her home in Sugar Land, Texas, after a Broward County grand jury indicted her with a first degree murder charge, the South Florida Sun Sentinel first reported.
“The passage of time between the injuries sustained and the death of the victim were considered by the forensic experts who conducted the autopsy and ruled the death was directly caused by the injuries from 1984,” prosecutors said in a statement, the AP reports. “This case was presented to the grand jury, which determined that this was a homicide.”
McKirchy has always maintained her innocence. In 1985, she told the Miami Herald, “I know I didn’t do it…My conscience is clear. But I can’t deal with it anymore.”
If found guilty of Dowling’s murder, McKirchy faces life in prison.
According to his family, despite his challenges, Dowling enjoyed a life “full of opportunity and adventure.”
“Benjamin smiled when a familiar voice spoke to him or he heard something that tickled him,” his online obituary states. “He was number 1 fan for his talented brother and sister in their many activities and sporting events. He traveled many places in the US and even the Bahamas for a wonderful family reunion. Benjamin taught us all many valuable life lessons and everyone who knew Benjamin was better because they did.”