A 36-year-old Searcy woman accused in the November 2020 death of a 10-year-old has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for manslaughter.
Malissa Kay Feavel pleaded guilty to the class C felony charge Monday in White County Circuit Court in a negotiated deal. She received 119 days of jail credit.
Feavel and Christopher Lee Feavel, 40, were arrested March 12 by the White County Sheriff’s Office after an investigation due to the suspicious nature of the death Nov. 25, when deputies and detectives went to a residence on Arkansas Highway 16 for “an unresponsive child,” and after the cause of death was confirmed by the Arkansas Medical Examiner’s Office, according ot Sheriff Phillip Miller. Christopher Feavel was charged with class C felony manslaughter with accomplice. He received a continuance in September and is set for a status hearing Friday at 9 a.m.
According to the affidavit written by Detective Misty Goss, Malissa Feavel was interviewed March 12 concerning the death of the child. Feavel reportedly said that “her daughter began feeling ill” Sunday, Nov. 22, and her husband, the child’s stepfather, “had given the child Dramamine,” an antihistamine used in the treatment of symptoms related to motion sickness. By Tuesday, though, “the child began to vomit into the night, also was screaming and not sleeping,” she reportedly said.
“She stated that her husband gave the child ‘several pills of Dramamine’ and about ‘four cups of Benadryl’ to get her to calm down,” Goss wrote. “She later described that the cups were the common cups that are included inside the boxes of over-the-counter medications.”
On the morning of Nov. 25, Christopher Feavel reportedly administered Benadryl, Dramamine and Ibuprofen, holding the child’s mouth open while doing it, according to Malissa Feavel. She reportedly said he also told her to “continue giving the child the medications, which she did around 7:30-8:30 a.m.” The child reportedly fell asleep around 9-9:30 a.m. Malissa Feavel reportedly checked on her around 12:30-12:45 p.m. and found her unresponsive.
Feavel reportedly “did not seek medical care for the child and admitted that she should have taken the child to the doctor.”
Christopher Feavel also was interviewed March 12. He reportedly said he, Malissa and the child were sleeping in the living room Nov. 24 and the child “had been sick throughout the night.”
He reportedly said he woke up at 5 a.m. and “the child was awake.” However, he reportedly said the child “was sitting up on the couch and not screaming as Malissa had described.” He also reportedly said that it was Malissa Feavel who gave the child “three adult-strength Dramamine tablets” and that “he held her down while Malissa placed them in her mouth.”
According to his account, Malissa Feavel also “held her jaw closed so that she would swallow,” Goss wrote. “He stated that he left for work and did not know the number of medications that was given to her throughout the day.”
In a second interview March 17, Christopher Feavel reportedly said that “on days that the child and her sibling were home from school [at the residence at 2500 Highway 16] that Malissa would often administer Benadryl to keep them sleeping. He stated that this occurred on days during the weekends where he had to work or holidays when the children were not in school.”
Goss wrote that Christopher Feavel also said his wife “had no patience for the children and that she would often complain that ‘I can’t stand these [expletive] kids.’”
He reportedly said the kids “were fine” when he was home, but “there were always problems between Malissa and the kids” when he went to work. “He stated that each day he would leave for work the children would become upset and want to leave the house with him,” Goss wrote. “He believes that this is because they did not want to be alone with their mother.”
The presumptive sentence, according to Monday sentencing order, was two to five years in Arkansas Community Corrections. The reasons given for departing from that recommendation were that Malissa Feavel’s “conduct manifested deliberate cruelty to the victim ...,” she knew the victim was “vulnerable due to extreme youth ...” and “as the result of other charges being dropped or merged.”
Court information shows that Feavel was charged in July with class C felony failure to appear.
Circuit Judge Mark Pate also sentenced Cheyenne Micheal Most, 22, of Searcy to a year of probation Monday after she pleaded guilty in a negotiated deal to misdemeanor first-degree assault on a family or household member. Most had been charged with class D felony third-degree domestic battery charge, with enhanced penalties for offenses committed in the presence of a child.
She was accused of striking “her significant other while holding their infant child in her arm across her chest” Sept. 1, 2020, “during an altercation that escalated from an argument,” according to the affidavit written by Detective Kara Osborne of the Searcy Police Department. The alleged victim’s injuries were observed by the officers who responded to the scene, Osborne wrote.
Witnesses reportedly said the child was throwing up afterward.
Most had been convicted in White County District Court-Searcy Division in February 2020 of misdemeanor third-degree domestic battery.