One of two people found traveling in a car with a teenage child and a decomposing body has taken a plea deal, and will likely be sentenced to probation.
On Aug. 31, Sherrie Lynn Boggess, 50, pleaded "no contest" to one misdemeanor count of willful cruelty to a child in connection with the bizarre case.
Boggess and her husband, 59-year-old Darwin Keith Alaskari, were arrested on Aug. 15 after SLO County Sheriff's Office deputies discovered the decomposing body of 83-year-old Donald Eugene Cunningham in the back of an SUV the couple had been occupying in Cayucos. According to sheriff's officials, deputies approached the vehicle because it was parked on the street facing the wrong direction and was emanating a "strong odor." Inside, they found Cunningham's body, Alaskari, and Boggess. Boggess and Alaskari's 13-year-old daughter was also in vehicle.
Investigators said that Cunningham had been a longtime acquaintance of the couple, described as transients from the Bakersfield area, and indicated that they had been transporting his body to Big Sur or an out-of-state location for a burial.
Both Boggess and Alaskari were charged with misdemeanor methamphetamine possession, as well as a felony count of willful harm or injury to a child and one misdemeanor count of willful cruelty to a child. Sheriff's officials indicated that the child endangerment charges were brought against the two because they allowed a minor to be in close proximity to a decomposing body, and because there were narcotics and paraphernalia in the vehicle as well. The 13-year-old was taken into protective custody after Boggess and Alaskari's arrest.
In exchange for her plea, Boggess will likely be sentenced to four years of probation and mandatory parenting class. The two remaining charges against her will be dropped, according to court records. Boggess will be formally sentenced in SLO County Superior Court on Sept. 26.
As Boggess' court case comes to a close, her husband's remains ongoing. Court records showed that Alaskari has been referred for a mental health evaluation to determine whether he is mentally competent to stand trial.
As of Sept. 13, the cause of Cunningham's death remains unknown. A sheriff's spokesman said that the department is still waiting for a final autopsy and toxicology report. Δ