'Clapping': Babysitter Claimed Girl, 5, Fell Down Stairs. Then Police Learned How She Really Died

Cheri Marler, 53, was convicted on May 10 of murdering and abusing Annabelle Noles, who was killed in Nov. 2022

<p>Lincoln County Sheriffs Office</p> Cheri Marler

Lincoln County Sheriffs Office

Cheri Marler

Content warning: The following article contains disturbing descriptions of child abuse.

A Wyoming woman has been convicted of killing a 5-year-old girl she was babysitting after initially telling police the child fell down the stairs, say authorities.

On May 10, a jury in the Lincoln County District Court found Cheri Marler, 53, of Kemmerer, guilty of first-degree murder and child abuse in the 2022 death of Annabelle Noles, Cowboy State Daily reports.

Marler faces life in prison without parole when she is sentenced.

Marler, who had been babysitting Annabelle and her sister for a several weeks, called 911 at about 3;40 p.m, on Nov. 25, 2022, about an unresponsive child, police said, the Star Valley Independent reports.

Marler told officers that Annabelle had fallen down the stairs, court records show, Cowboy State Daily reports.

The child was rushed to a local hospital for treatment and then airlifted to Primary Children’s Hospital in Utah.

Annabelle had a broken back, bleeding in the brain and extensive cuts and bruising that indicated new and previous injuries, a doctor at the local hospital testified, according to the Uinta County Herald.

Annabelle died the next day. Marler was arrested shortly after and charged with first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse.

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When Marler spoke to the Kemmerer police chief on Nov. 26, 2022, after Annabelle died, she “admitted” that she had slapped and hit the girl up to 10 times “in a clapping motion,” according to an affidavit obtained by Cowboy State Daily.

Marler told the chief how she was clapping her hands with the child’s “head in the middle,” the affidavit says.

Annabelle went to lie down into another room, where Marler found her unconscious, the affidavit says.

The day before, she told police she had beaten Annabelle with kitchen utensils, the affidavit says.

“Eventually, she succumbed to these fatal injuries. Her deep brain injury was a result of blunt force trauma, not just contact injuries,” Dr. Ruiz-Maldonado testified, according to the Uinta County Herald.

On the stand, Marler denied harming Annabelle.

Marler will be sentenced at a later date.

Her attorney did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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