Justice for ‘Cupcake’: Defendants sentenced to life in federal prison

Patrick Stallworth and Derick Brown convicted on kidnapping and conspiracy to kidnap 3-year-old Kamille ‘Cupcake’ McKinney in Birmingham in 2019.
Published: Mar. 3, 2023 at 11:58 AM EST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Patrick Stallworth and Derick Brown will spend the remainder of their lives in prison. On Friday, March 3, Chief Judge Scott Coogler handed down life sentences to Stallworth and Brown for federal kidnapping counts for disappearance and death of 3-year-old Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney in 2019. Both are sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for each count, which will be served concurrently, or at the same time.

Coogler said the sentences for both defendants are less than what’s appropriate.

“It’s the most I could do. If I had the ability to do more I would,” Coogler said after pronouncing Stallworth’s sentence.

McKinney’s family asked Assistant United States Attorney Lloyd Peeples to read a statement before each sentence was handed down.

“You are the scum of the Earth that took her away from a good family,” Peeples read on behalf of the victim’s family. “You didn’t care what you did, you only cared that you were caught.”

Stallworth showed no emotion and declined to speak during his sentencing.

Brown read a statement, apologizing to McKinney’s family and the Court.

“Lord knows if I could go back in time to that terrible day and change the outcome I would,” Brown stated.

Cupcake’s mother, April Thomas, also wrote a statement that was read during Brown’s sentencing.

“How could you look at someone so precious and take her away from love and life and do something so brutal,” Thomas wrote. “Life [without parole] and death will never be enough for what you did.”

Stallworth and Brown were tried separately in late 2022, in both cases juries found the kidnapping led to McKinney’s death. That sentencing enhancement led to a mandatory life sentence in federal prison without the possibility of parole.

During both trials, the jury heard from dozens of witnesses and viewed around 100 exhibits. Federal prosecutors put on evidence that showed Stallworth and Brown spent the day Cupcake was kidnapped visiting neighborhoods and talking to children. Cupcake was kidnapped that night at Tom Brown Village while visiting a family member. Cupcake’s body was found 10 days later in a Birmingham landfill. An autopsy revealed her cause of death was asphyxia. Doctors also found meth in her system.

WBRC covered both week-long trials, documenting each day with a detailed blog. You can read the difficult details from Stallworth’s and Brown’s trial by clicking on these links: Stallworth trial details; Brown trial details.

Stallworth and Brown will now be tried on state capital murder counts. The state is seeking the death penalty.

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