On Thursday, Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine announced he was charging 22-year-old Chelsey Cook with Intentional Child Abuse in the death of four-year-old Alicia Morrow.
Kleine says the state could not pursue homicide charges because the girl’s preliminary autopsy results are inconclusive.
Kleine says the preliminary autopsy revealed four-year-old Alicia Morrow had no obvious signs of trauma, but her cause of death could not be determined at this time. Kleine went on to say that she may have died days before her death was reported.
“On January, 3rd 2016, the defendant (Chelsey Cook) found the four-year-old victim lying naked on the floor of the residence, with shallow breathing and she was cold to the touch,” said Kleine.
Kleine says Chelsey Cook, Alicia’s caregiver failed to get the girl medical help on Sunday. On Tuesday night Cook’s family called 911 when they discovered the girl’s body.
“Police responded on January 5th and found the girl wrapped in plastic in the basement of that residence,” said Kleine.
Kleine said there was minimal food in the home, only one bed and an issue with the home’s heat.
On Wednesday, Cook’s father Kevin Cook said Alicia had been living with his daughter since December of 2014. Cook has a three-year-old son of her own who is now in state custody.
“Any individual who chooses to take someone else’s child as their own, even though they didn't go through the proper channel is amazing and shows the willingness to be a parent,” said Kevin Cook.
According to a police report, Alicia's biological mother Lakisha Morrow signed a notarized letter with Cook in 2014 to say Cook was to care for her daughter. Morrow says she had been trying to get her child back for months.
Kevin Cook says he doesn't know the circumstances surrounding the little girl’s death, but knows his daughter never laid a hand on the little girl.
“Definitely she isn't a murderer, definitely not,” said Cook.
Cook’s felony child abuse charge carries up to three years in prison.