This is a statement in full from Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd. Please be advised of the extremely graphic material regarding the abuse of a child which follows after the break. -- Ed.
A Platte City man was sentenced to 28 years in prison on June 14 for child abuse and possession of child pornography. James Marquis, 44, had been found guilty following a week-long jury trial in April.
Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said, “This case touched a nerve with everyone associated with it: the police, prosecutors, the jurors, and the judge. We deal with lots of horrible cases in our office, but this is one of the worst of the worst.”
Judge Abe Shafer imposed the maximum sentence possible of 28 years by running the jury’s recommended sentences on each count consecutively.
Marquis’ criminal defense attorney, Louis Caskey, argued at sentencing that the defendant, who has been in custody for more than two years, should be immediately released.
Shafer then addressed Marquis, saying, “You are an evil person, sir.” He said the words of Marquis’ victims “still ring in my ears.”
The case began in January 2010, when officers from the Platte City Police Department were called to the high school regarding possible child abuse. The victim reported that she was afraid to go home because of the way her parents would punish her.
Marquis forced the victim, a 15-year-old girl, to stand in the corner for up to 10 hours a day for weeks at a time. Marquis monitored her standing in the corner through video surveillance placed in her room. The victim was only allowed to leave the corner to eat and perform chores.
Based on information obtained from the victim during her interview, police obtained a warrant to search Marquis’ computers. The search revealed multiple images of child pornography on Marquis’ computers along with video clips of the victim standing in a corner of her room.
The jury ultimately convicted Marquis of possessing 35 still images and two videos of child pornography, as well as child abuse and child endangerment.
Zahnd said, “This defendant subjected multiple child victims to horrific acts of physical, sexual, and mental abuse. To top it off, he has shown absolutely no remorse for his illegal and immoral acts. He has earned every single day of his 28-year sentence, and I hope the parole board ensures he serves each day.”
Prosecutors presented testimony at trial from another young girl who was sexually abused by Marquis.
While testifying, that girl asked to get back certificates she had earned during school which had been in Marquis’ possession. She said they were the only good things to remember from a terrible time in her life.
Caskey agreed to return the certificates to the victim in open court, but refused to do so following the sentencing hearing because he claimed the victim had lied on the stand. Zahnd said his office intended to use every legal means possible to ensure the girl obtained the certificates.
The case was investigated by the Platte City Police Department, the Missouri Children’s Division, and the Heart of America Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory. It was tried by First Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Mark Gibson and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Matt Morris.