Kemmerer Babysitter Says She Confessed To Killing 5-Year-Old To End Police Interview

Cheri Marler, the 53-year-old Kemmerer babysitter on trial for first-degree murder in the brutal beating death of a 5-year-old girl, testified at her trial Thursday that she confessed when interviewed by police just to end the lengthy interview.

Clair McFarland

May 10, 20247 min read

Cheri Marler and courthouse 5 9 24
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The Kemmerer, Wyoming, babysitter accused of beating a 5-year-old girl to death 19 months ago took the witness stand in her own defense Thursday at her first-degree murder trial, telling the jury she confessed originally not because she was guilty, but to end a lengthy police interview.

Cheri Marler, who is about 53, testified before a jury in Lincoln County District Court on Thursday afternoon that she did not beat Annabelle Noles at all, let alone severely enough to cause her death in November 2022.  

“I didn’t hurt no one,” Marler said while Lincoln County Attorney deputy John Bowers cross-examined her. “I did not hurt this child.”

First, A Confession

Marler called 911 on Nov. 25, 2022, to report that 5-year-old Annabelle Noles, whom she’d been babysitting for two months, had fallen down the stairs in Marler’s home.

Police came to find the girl unresponsive, bruised on her face and body, with bald patches on her scalp and swelling to the back of her head. Emergency personnel rushed the little girl to the hospital, and she was later flown to emergency care in Utah.

Meanwhile, police asked Marler to come to the Kemmerer Police Department for an interview. Investigators weren’t sure about Marler’s account of the girl falling down the stairs because a box sat neatly at the bottom of the stairs and a dog water bowl on the top landing sat undisturbed.

Kemmerer Police Chief Mike Kahre urged Marler to tell the truth. That’s when she confessed to beating the girl with kitchen utensils and slapping the girl’s head between her two hands, according to video footage of her confession played during her trial this week.

When the little girl came to apologize for being difficult, Marler allegedly kicked her in the chest to get her away.

Doctors would later find multiple broken bones on the girl, including her jaw and vertebrae. 

“I’m a f***ing horrible person for hitting a f***ing child,” a sobbing Marler had told Kahre.  

Marler said the girl’s mother, Kayla Kartchner, dropped Annabelle and Annabelle’s little sister off in late September, and didn’t come back for them. She said she was upset that the mother wouldn’t visit with the girls, and she had financial worries of her own. 

On March 26, Annabelle died.

Too Many Painkillers

Marler testified Thursday that she’d taken strong painkiller drugs that day, oxycontin and gabapentin, and that she was in pain from her ongoing illnesses: a rare blood cancer, hardware in her back and hip, and degenerative disc disease.

She characterized the five-and-a-half-hour series of police interviews that led to her confession as a lengthy interrogation that made her feel trapped, and said she made things up to get Kahre to quit hounding her.

Six months ago, Lincoln County District Court Judge Joseph Bluemel refuted the defense’s argument that Marler’s interview was an interrogation, and he allowed Marler’s confession to remain in the trial evidence pool.

But the jury can still weigh that argument for itself.

“Annabelle was a loving child and she wanted to stay next to me,” said Marler, when examined on the witness stand Thursday by her defense attorney, Elisabeth Trefonas.

Marler characterized Annabelle as clingy and malnourished with uncared-for, infected teeth in need of attention. She said she was trying to get some weight onto the girl, and kept trying to get her to doctors but struggled with not being the child’s guardian and not having insurance for her.

She also claimed that Annabelle did not want to go back to her mother and her mother’s boyfriend. She said that at one point, Kartchner showed up with black eyes when she came drop the girls off at Marler’s home.

Marler also testified about the little girls in her care (Kartchner’s two girls and Marler’s own granddaughter) hurting themselves on a yard swing and on a bunk bed.

‘You Have A Temper Don’t You’

Bowers was relentless in his cross-examination. He kept referring Marler to portions from her police interview transcript that conflicted with her court testimony.

Marler kept saying she was just telling Kahre a story so she could get out of the police department.

“So, your testimony to the jury today is that you were doing physical exercises, and not demonstrating to Chief Kahre how you hit Anabelle Noles?” asked Bowers, referring to a hitting gesture Marler had made during the portion of her police interview in which she described how she beat the girl.

“The truth is that Annabelle Noles fell down the stairs,” Marler said, becoming more defensive.

“You have a temper, don’t you?” asked Bowers.

“No I don’t, but you’re sitting here accusing me of something. I’ve been accused by police, my family’s been threatened, my granddaughter’s been threatened,” said Marler. “I’ve gone through a year and a half of being quiet when everybody’s been saying whatever they want about me!”

Bowers retorted: “Is that how you snapped with Annabelle?”

“Think what you must — I did not hurt this child,” answered Marler.

Bowers called up a portion of Marler’s police interview in which Marler had said: “I couldn’t handle it anymore; she came up and she started lying to me again. I don’t know, Officer Kahre.”

Shaken Baby

Forensic pathologists and a child-abuse specialist doctor testified Wednesday and Thursday for the state. They described Annabelle’s constellation of severe, mild, fresh and old injuries as indicative of child abuse when taken altogether.

Her brain especially indicated purposeful trauma, similar to injury and healing patterns consistent with shaken baby syndrome except in an older child, the experts testified.

“Typically, I don’t see (this injury) when people fall down the stairs by themselves,” Dr. Andrew Guajardo told Trefonas. “(This) really takes a lot of force that might move the head around.”

Prosecutors asked the doctors if Annabelle likely died from her older injuries, which the defense indicated as stemming from other incidents such as Annabelle’s launching off a swing or hurting herself on the bunk bed.

The doctors said that was not as plausible as child abuse.

With the newest brain injuries Annabelle’s scans revealed, “I don’t believe she’d have gone two, three days without anyone saying she was dying, essentially,” child-abuse specialist Dr. Tagrid Ruiz-Maldonado told Lincoln County Attorney Spencer Allred. “Those injuries to her brain would have been sustained very recent to her death.”

Both the prosecution and defense rested their cases by the end of the day Thursday. The trial continues Friday with jury instructions and closing statements, then the jury will begin deliberating Marler’s fate.

If convicted, she faces life in prison.

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter