Southern Illinois Woman Pleads Guilty in Daughter’s Death

BENTON, Ill. (AP) — A southern Illinois woman has pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the drowning death of her 8-year-old daughter in 2011. The Franklin County State’s Attorney Evan Owens says Mary Zumwalt-Jophlin, 32, of West Frankfort pleaded guilty yesterday to concealment of a death, aggravated battery and involuntary manslaughter of her daughter, Alexus Nicole Smothers. Zumwalt-Jophlin’s trial was to start today. Zumwalt-Jophlin agreed to a sentence of 35 years in prison as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. Authorities alleged Zumwalt-Jophlin killed her daughter at their West Frankfort home and then hid the girl’s body in a basement crawlspace.