'Only Round One': Other prosecutions possible in Lauren McConniel's death
May 15, 2011
MUNCIE -- The ongoing trial of Lauren McConniel's stepmother will not represent a conclusion to the official investigation of events that led to the 5-year-old Muncie girl's death last year.
In fact, Brittany McConniel's trial, likely to conclude this week, might end up being a beginning, not the end, in terms of related prosecutions.
As grim details regarding the young victim's final weeks came to light through last week's testimony, the public responded -- in the form of Internet postings, calls to The Star Press newsroom and, in one case, a large cardboard sign, addressed to Delaware County Prosecutor Jeffrey Arnold and left on one of his staff member's vehicles, parked outside the county building.
The most common reaction: With Lauren's father set to plead guilty to a neglect count that could send him to prison for 20 years, and her stepmother standing trial on a charge with a maximum 50-year sentence, why aren't the other adults who lived in the home in which Lauren wasted away also facing charges?
Most of the speculation focuses on 44-year-old Robert E. Lee, Brittany McConniel's stepfather. Witnesses, particularly Ryan McConniel, have described Lee as an active participant in the abuse of the 5-year-old victim, both suggesting and participating in forms of corporal punishment -- acts that many would label torture -- that targeted Lauren.
"This trial is only Round One," Deputy Prosecutor Eric Hoffman said when asked about future prosecutions last week.
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