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Press Release

Salina Couple Sentenced After Being Found Guilty of Child Abuse and Neglect

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Oklahoma

TULSA, Okla. – In June of 2023, a federal jury found Joel Richard Smith and Amanda Irene Smith guilty of Child Abuse in Indian Country and Child Neglect in Indian Country.

Today, U.S. District Judge Sara E. Hill sentenced the Salina husband and wife in separate hearings. Judge Hill ordered Joel Richard Smith, 49, a Cherokee Nation citizen to 180 months imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release. Amanda Irene Smith, 45, was sentenced to 240 months imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release.

According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Joel and Amanda Smith were legal guardians for the 9-year-old child victim. In April 2019, the Mayes County Sheriff’s Office received a call about a child who escaped to a neighbor's home, was hungry, filthy, and in need of medical attention.

At trial, the child victim testified about the abuse and neglect that she suffered at the hands of the defendants. She described being forced to do manual labor in the yard with her hands, like digging holes and moving large rocks. She would be locked outside for extended periods, even in poor weather. If the child was allowed to eat, she said it was usually a bottle, oatmeal, or baby food. At night, she would crawl into the kitchen to get food because she was hungry. After being caught, she stated she was handcuffed to the pack-n-play she slept in. She described being forced to wear diapers instead of being allowed to use the restroom, being hit with a broom that broke on her head, a belt, and a horsefly.

Testimony from medical professionals revealed that the child entered the home of the Smiths at age four and weighed 50 pounds. However, in April 2019, at age nine, the child victim only weighed 41 pounds. Medical professionals testified about the child's malnutrition, bruising, and infected handcuff wounds.

At sentencing, Joel Smith took responsibility for his actions and inactions. However, Amanda Smith continued to deny any involvement.

Joel Smith will remain in custody pending transfer to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. Amanda Smith was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

The FBI and Mayes County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie Ihler and Melody Nelson prosecuted the case.


Public Affairs

Updated July 10, 2024

Indian Country Law and Justice