Ware woman charged with murder in connection with death of 4-year-old

A preliminary hearing is set for Tuesday morning, Jan. 10, in the case of a Union County woman who has been charged in connection with the death of a child.

The victim, identified as Justin James Hepburn, 4, died at 7:58 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 11, at his home in rural Jonesboro.

Funeral services for Justin were last Friday morning in Jonesboro.

The woman, who was taken into custody last week, faces multiple charges in connection with an investigation surrounding the death of the boy.

Union County State's Attorney Tyler R. Edmonds and Union County Sheriff David Livesay identified the woman in custody as Sacha E. Brown, 29, of 25 Follis Dr. in Ware.

Brown was taken into custody Monday evening, Dec. 12.

On Wednesday, Brown formally was charged with multiple felony offenses, including first-degree murder, aggravated battery and concealment of a homicidal death.

Brown had her first appearance in court Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 14.

The hearing was conducted at the Union County Courthouse in Jonesboro, with Judge Mark Boie presiding.

Boie read the charges filed by the state against Brown, explained the possible penalties she could face and set her bond at $750,000. Brown could face up to 100 years in prison if she is convicted. She also could face a fine of up to $25,000 on each charge.

The suspect is charged with actions which allegedly caused the young boy to sustain a skull fracture.

Brown also is alleged to have positioned the child's body in such a way as to make it appear that the death was accidental.

Judge Boie appointed attorney Brad Sherrill as public defender to represent Brown.

At the end of the hearing, which lasted about 20 minutes, the judge asked Brown if she understood the charges and possible penalties that she faced. She shook her yead yes.

Brown remains in custody at the Jackson County Jail in Murphysboro.

Brown was taken into custody following an investigation by the Union County Sheriff's Office, Illinois State Police, Union County coroner's office and Union County state's attorney's office.

The Southern Illinois Child Death Task Force also was activated as part of the investigation.

The task force brought resources from a number of agencies into the investigation, including the Williamson County Sheriff's Office, the Massac County Sheriff's Office, Vienna police and Carbondale police.


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