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Woman sentenced to life in prison for fatally beating stepson

A 31-year-old woman was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison with the possibility of parole for beating her 4-year-old stepson to death.

Patricia Atalig pleaded guilty in December to felony counts of second-degree murder and child abuse for the killing of her stepson, Marcel Foster.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Michelle Jobe said Atalig became frustrated with Marcel, whom she referred to as “MJ,” and repeatedly slammed his head into the ground on Jan. 21, 2021.

“She took out every ounce of aggression and anger she had on MJ and left him there to die,” Jobe said during a sentencing hearing Tuesday.

District Judge Carli Kierny sentenced Atalig on Tuesday to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 12 years. Atalig was also ordered to pay $3,364 in restitution.

Marcel’s father had returned home from work on Jan. 22, 2021, to find the boy unresponsive in his room, according to court documents. Atalig had been home with the boy and a family friend during the day.

The family friend told police that the boy hadn’t eaten his lunch and was “disrespectful” to Atalig, who ordered him to go to his room. The friend said he heard “what he believed to be the victim being spanked for approximately five minutes” and then heard a loud noise that sounded like the boy falling to the ground or hitting the wall, according to court records.

Atalig admitted to police that she slammed the boy’s head on the ground at least twice and then left him alone in his room until his father came home from work, court records show.

Jobe said that the boy had suffered a fractured arm, multiple skull fractures, bleeding in his brain, abdominal injuries and bruising on his neck that indicated strangulation. Atalig had claimed that she was under the influence of alcohol and marijuana when she beat the boy, Jobe said.

Atalig wrote a statement that her public defender, Anna Clark, gave to the judge on Tuesday, but the judge did not read the letter aloud in court.

Clark said that while there there was no excuse for her actions, Atalig wanted the judge to understand her history.

“Ms. Atalig, of course, is also a damaged person, and damaged in ways that I don’t even feel comfortable talking about in court with everybody listening,” Clark said.

Clark declined to comment on the case after the hearing.

Members of Marcel’s family were in court Tuesday, but did not speak.

Before issuing the sentence, the judge told Atalig that the boy’s killing was “awful.”

“While I am sorry for the things that you have gone through in your life, the picture that has been put forth I don’t think is ever going to leave this court,” Kierny said. “This is incredibly tragic that MJ had to go through all of this.”


Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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