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Alabama couple sentenced to life for abusing foster child that suffered skull fracture, brain bleed

John and April McDowell (Carol Robinson/

An Alabama couple has been sentenced to life in prison for abusing their foster child, who was hospitalized with a skull fracture and a brain bleed three years ago.

April Elizabeth McDowell, 32, and John Michael McDowell, 32, were convicted in October of aggravated child abuse and faced anywhere from 10 years to life prison.

Russell County District Attorney Rick Chancey said the life sentence was handed down Tuesday morning.

On Aug. 22, 2022, the McDowell’s 18-month-old foster daughter was going in and out of consciousness and an ambulance was needed, April McDowell told a 911 dispatcher. The child was taken to Piedmont Medical Center and later transported to Children’s of Alabama.

Deputies went to the hospital and determined that the child had injuries that were not consistent with the guardian’s story of what happened to the child. It was determined that the child had a fractured skull and a brain bleed.

Authorities said the McDowells had been the foster parents of the child since May 2020.

Initial medical reports indicated that the child had multiple injuries in different stages of healing that were not consistent with normal injuries to a toddler but were consistent with injuries related to abuse.

The McDowells were taken into custody a short time later. John McDowell was arrested at Ft. Benning by the Military Police Criminal Investigation’s Division where he was stationed at the time. His wife was arrested at their residence in Ft. Mitchell.

The child was removed from the McDowells’ home.

“This child is now with a very loving family, and we appreciate their great support and help in this case,” Chancey told television station WRBL after the conviction.

“It was very emotional for them [the girl’s new family] as well, and everyone is glad that this can be behind us,’’ he said. “Our hopes and prayers are with this child as she grows and puts this chapter of her life behind her.”


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