For Immediate Release - November 02, 2009

Mother Sentenced In Baby's Death

On Thursday, October 29, a Salem Superior Court jury found Jennifer Ward, 39, of Peabody, guilty of involuntary manslaughter for the November, 2007 death of her nine-month-old daughter.

This morning in that same courtroom, Judge David Lowy sentenced Ward to 15 to 17 years in state prison. Essex Assistant District Attorney Kate B. MacDougall had asked the judge to sentence Ward to 18 to 20 years in state prison. Defense Attorney Thomas Barrett requested his client be sentenced to time served, followed by a term of probation. Ward has been in jail for less than two years, and will get credit for that time.

The maximum penalty for involuntary manslaughter is 20 years in state prison.

At trial, Prosecutor MacDougall proved that on November 18, 2007, Ward shook and beat Jocelyn Mae Ward-Anderson to death in a rage of anger. The baby had been fussing for 2 ½ hours prior to the killing.

MacDougall told the jury in her closing argument that the baby had been "brutalized." The infant suffered a fractured skull, brain damage, and fractures to both shoulders and left arm.

MacDougall praised the work of Peabody and State Police investigators, and thanked the medical professionals at Lahey Clinic in Peabody and Children's Hospital in Boston for their extraordinary efforts on Jocelyn's behalf.