A woman from Lansing, Michigan has been found guilty of a disturbing case of second-degree murder and first-degree child abuse. Jessica Bice received these charges in relation to the death of her six-year-old special-needs nephew, Christopher Pratt.
The boy suffered from a rare chromosomal disorder, autism, epilepsy, and additional complications. He died in August 2018 from a combination of blunt-force head trauma and extreme malnourishment.
The jury’s verdict was reached after five weeks of reviewing a massive amount of complex evidence. This was followed by intense deliberations that spanned across two full days.
Ingham County Prosecutor John Dewane acknowledged the challenging task faced by the jurors but noted they arrived at the right conclusion, holding Bice accountable for the tragic death of her nephew.
Christopher was entrusted to Bice’s care following his mother’s death in 2017 and subsequent allegations of physical abuse against his father. At the time of his death, the young boy, barely seven, weighed a scant 29 pounds and had lost approximately 11 pounds in less than three months.
A forensic pathologist attributed Christopher’s death to blunt-force trauma to the head, exacerbated by caregiver neglect, with the severity of the injuries ruling out the possibility of self-infliction.
Throughout the trial, Bice maintained her innocence. She insisted that she had neither assaulted Christopher nor neglected his dietary needs, attributing his significant weight loss to frequent fluctuations.
She further claimed uncooperative school staff led her to withdraw Christopher from school, planning to enroll him elsewhere — plans that were tragically never realized due to his premature death.
Assistant Ingham County Prosecutor Kristen Rolph pointed out contradictions in Bice’s narrative and suggested she was shifting blame onto others, a strategy Rolph described as a diversionary tactic.
Bice’s defense team attempted to attribute Christopher’s condition to an extremely rare, undiagnosed genetic disorder. However, Rolph dismissed this argument and challenged the credibility of the defense’s medical expert.
With second-degree murder and first-degree child abuse charges carrying a potential life sentence, the court set Bice’s sentencing for July 24th.
The prosecutor praised the efforts of the legal team and the police detective for their outstanding work on the case, which was described as medically complex and challenging.