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Plea Agreement Possible In Rountree Child Endangerment Case

Richard and Cynthia
Richard Rountree, left, and Cynthia Baker.

The defense attorney for Richard Rountree said Friday she’s talking to prosecutors about a plea agreement that could resolve the child endangerment charge against him.

Rountree, 31, pleaded not guilty Friday in front of Judge Bill Yoder. During the arraignment public defender Carla Barnes acknowledged the possibility the case could be resolved by Feb. 26 when Rountree is due back in court for a status hearing. Prosecutor Mary Koll said a longer hearing may be required that day to accommodate a possible victim-impact statement.

McLean County State's Attorney Don Knapp, who was in court for Friday's hearing, declined to comment on the possibility of a plea agreement.

Rountree is charged with endangering the life or health of a child (a class 3 felony) in connection with the death of his 8-year-old daughter, Rica Rountree, in January 2019. Rountree’s then-girlfriend, Cynthia Baker, was convicted of chronically abusing and ultimately killing Rica during a 2019 trial. Richard Rountree allegedly allowed and failed to protect Rica from the abuse. They lived together in Normal at the time of Rica’s death.

Rountree is eligible for an extended sentence if convicted. He’s been held at the McLean County jail since his Jan. 7 arrest.

Baker has not yet been sentenced but is eligible for life in prison because the jury found the murder to be heinous and with wanton cruelty. She recently hired a new attorney who is planning to seek a new a new trial for Baker based on her claims she received ineffective assistance from her previous lawyer.

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