Kemmerer Babysitter Guilty Of Beating 5-Year-Old Girl To Death

A jury took about 4.5 hours Friday to find Kemmerer babysitter Cheri Marler guilty of first-degree murder in the brutal beating death of a 5-year-old girl in her charge.

CM
Clair McFarland

May 10, 20247 min read

Annabelle Noles was beated to death by her babysitter in November 2022. On May 10, 2024, that babysitter, Cheri Marler, was convicted of first-degree murder.
Annabelle Noles was beated to death by her babysitter in November 2022. On May 10, 2024, that babysitter, Cheri Marler, was convicted of first-degree murder. (Courtesy Kayla Kartchner via Facebook)

It took a jury about half a day Friday to find a Kemmerer babysitter who “snapped” and beat a 5-year-old girl to death guilty of first-degree murder and child abuse.

Cheri Marler, who is about 53, now faces life in prison for brutalizing one of the young girls in her charge, including smashing the girl’s head between her hands, hitting her with kitchen utensils and kicking her.

The verdict followed 4.5 hours of jury deliberation and was the culmination of a weeklong trial in Lincoln County District Court in which grisly evidence about the abuse inflicted on 5-year-old Annabelle Noles’ bruised, broken, scarred and hemorrhaging body.

The jury didn’t seem to believe Marler’s version of events when she testified on her own behalf Thursday, including a claim that she confessed to police not because she was guilty, but because she wanted to end the interview.

Four doctors testified to the severity of Annabelle’s injuries. A brain expert who investigated her scans around the time of her Nov. 26, 2022, death said her brain bore injuries of force similar to those seen in a car wreck or shaken baby syndrome.

A child abuse expert who evaluated Noles when the little girl was flown to Utah concluded that her injuries resulted from child abuse — and they weren’t likely caused by a fall down the stairs.

Down The Stairs

But when Marler first called 911 on Nov. 25, 2022, after Annabelle became dazed, limp, then unresponsive, Marler told authorities the girl had fallen down the stairs.

Kemmerer Police Sgt. Jake Walker arrived and performed CPR on the girl, whose pulse was undetectable. He was startled at her bodily and facial bruising, reportedly, and also noticed her hair had bald patches.

Emergency personnel arrived and rushed the girl to the emergency room.

Annabelle was then flown to care in Salt Lake City, Utah. She survived about another 15 hours before dying the next morning. Her little sister, a preschool-age girl also in Marler’s care, told police that Annabelle had fallen down the stairs.

This Interview

While Annabelle was still fighting for her life, Kemmerer police asked Marler to come to the police department for an interview.

Marler had reportedly taken her regular pain medications, oxycontin and gabapentin, shortly before going to the station. She also testified she was in pain from falling down the stairs herself earlier.

The interview dragged on for five-and-a-half hours with multiple police officers.

Kemmerer Police Chief Mike Kahre and others had doubts about the veracity of Marler’s story because a box sat neatly at the bottom of the stairs, and a dog water bowl at the top of the stairs sat undisturbed.

Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation agents who later surveyed the scene did not find any blood, flesh or torn hair on the stairs, according to court testimony.

Kahre urged Marler to tell the truth.

She confessed to him, telling him frantically that she was a “f***ing horrible person for hitting a f***ing child,” but that the girl had been a terror: bullying the other little girls in her care, messing up the furniture, stealing, lying and climbing on things.

“I smacked her too hard,” said Marler at the time.

Marler said she’d beaten the girl with kitchen utensils and smacked the girl’s head between her two hands repeatedly. The little girl came to her to apologize for being difficult, and Marler kicked her in the chest to get her away, according to evidence presented in court this week.

At some point, Annabelle went limp and mucous oozed from her nostrils.

Marler wiped the mucous off her face and called 911, and tried to perform CPR on her but didn’t know how.

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

Except …

About a year into Marler’s prosecution, she claimed that her lengthy police interview was in fact an interrogation, and she asked Lincoln County District Court Judge Joseph Bluemel to exclude her confession from the trial evidence pool.

Judge Bluemel refuted Marler’s claims of coercion and kept her confession in the evidence.

Marler and her attorney, Elisabeth Trefonas, presented that argument to the jury.

Marler testified Thursday that she lied and made up stories because Kahre led her toward those conclusions and that she was desperate to get out of the police station because she was in pain and felt pressured.

Prosecutors countered, pointing out the comforts police offered: sodas, smoke breaks, the reassurance that she could leave if she wanted to.

Boyfriend?

Trefonas told the jury during her closing statements Friday that there were multiple points where the jury could find reasonable doubt.

For example, Marler testified that Annabelle’s mother Kayla Kartchner, and Kartchner’s boyfriend Jason Giek, had taken the girls for a short while Nov. 23, 2022, but that Marler’s outdoor camera didn’t capture that because Giek liked to use an alternate door into her home.

Lincoln County Attorney Spencer Allred cast this as unlikely since that route was knotted over with branches and other obstacles.

Marler said that Kartchner dropped the girls off later that day without Giek, and that Kartchner had black eyes — and the girls didn’t want to stay with Kartchner and Giek.

Prosecutors countered this as well, playing a police recording from the scene in which Annabelle’s little sister called Giek “Dad” and pleaded to go with him instead of staying at Marler’s house.

Conflicting testimonies emerged this week as to whether and how much Kartchner had visited or taken the girls from Marler’s house, but Marler’s initial statements to police were that Kartchner dropped the girls off in late September 2022 and didn’t come back for them.

She characterized Annabelle as an impossible child when police first interviewed her. But Thursday in court, Marler said Annabelle was clingy, malnourished and affectionate. Marler said she’d been working hard to put weight on the girl and get her medical and dental care since the girl’s teeth were rotted out.

The Bards

Trefonas’ closing statement revolved around lingering uncertainties in the testifying doctors’ statements, the stray chances of other people abusing Annabelle, and the alleged coerciveness of Marler’s police interviews.

“She called 911. She’s not hiding anything. She begged for help. She attempted CPR as best she could,” said Trefonas. “Ms. Marler did not commit child abuse. She did not intentionally inflict physical injury on Annabelle.”

Allred and deputy county attorney John Bowers’ closing statements focused on Marler’s confession, the testimonies of the four doctors, the “sterility” of the stairs Marler tried to blame, and the unlikelihood that Giek maneuvered through branches to avoid Marler’s cameras — then somehow beat Kartchner’s girls during a brief visit with them three days before Annabelle’s death.

The girl’s injuries, child-abuse expert Dr. Tagrid Ruiz-Maldonado testified, would have caused her death within about 15 hours of their infliction, not three days.

“It was difficult, impossible, for me to imagine someone doing this to a 5-year-old child,” Bowers told the jury. “But what do the facts tell us? The facts tell us a person did do this to a little child. And that person — that ‘who’ — did it intentionally. And that ‘who’ is Cheri Marler. Without a doubt it was her that did it.”

Kahre told Cowboy State Daily there’s no real winner or loser in the tragic case with families on both sides changed forever.

But the justice system worked like it is supposed to, he said.

“I would be lying if I said I was not pleased with today’s verdict. Unfortunately nothing will bring Annabelle back. She is gone,” said Kahre. “Today’s verdict, however, brings us justice for her. I am grateful to everyone who did their part to make this trial a success.”

Clair McFarland can be reached at clair@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter