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Lincoln Herald | Lincolnton, NC

home : news : news August 15, 2018

11/1/2017 5:34:00 PM
Photo Courtesy Gaston County Sheriff's Office
Photo Courtesy Gaston County Sheriff's Office

Wayne Howard
Staff Writer

Superior Court Judge Hugh Lewis found Thomas Allen Cheeks, 30, guilty of killing four-year-old Malachi Deandre Golden by starvation. Lewis sentenced Cheeks on Wednesday (Nov. 1st) to life in prison without parole.

Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty. Gaston County District Attorney Locke Bell has said he won't go for the death penalty in murder cases because the sentence isn't usually carried out and it causes much more expense for taxpayers.

Cheeks had rejected a plea bargain that would have given him a 26-year prison sentence.

Malachi died May 11, 2015, in the High Shoals apartment he shared with Cheeks and his mother Tiffany.

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Malachi had a chromosomal abnormality that caused him to have seizures several times daily. After a lengthy investigation, Gaston County police charged Cheeks with the murder of the child on November 2, 2015, and he confessed, but he recanted that confession in testimony during his trial. At the time he confessed, Cheeks admitted to striking the child when he had a seizure.

Tiffany Cheeks was also arrested and charged with felony child abuse and accessory after the fact to murder. She entered a guilty plea to those charges in exchange for an eight-year prison sentence. During her husband's trial, she asserted his innocence in the death of her son, one of three young children in the home. When he died, Malachi weighed just 19 pounds. The judge said the couple starved the child to death.

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