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Woman sent back to prison four days after release

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Karli Jo Cox, 20, to serve remainder of 10-year sentence

RED OAK — The same judge who “stuck his neck out” for a woman convicted of vehicular homicide sent Karli Jo Cox back to prison less than a week after releasing her.

One week ago, Cox (formerly Brown) was walking out of the Montgomery County Courthouse a free woman, despite serving just 8 months of a 10-year sentence for her part in the death of Maliki and Alex Todd.

Brown had received a 10-year prison sentence in 2011 after pleading guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide. She had been speeding, texting, and passing in a no passing zone when the car she was driving collided head-on with a vehicle driven by Nina McNeese south of Red Oak on Hwy. 48.  

Maliki and Alex, then 5 and 4, died at the scene of the accident while both McNeese and Cox suffered serious injuries.

Cox was back in court Monday before Judge James Heckerman after her arrest July 21 for domestic assault following an incident with her husband, Zachery Cox.

According to a Red Oak Police Department report, officers were called to City View Apartments Saturday night regarding a domestic disturbance that had turned physical.

Upon arrival, officers found both Karli Jo and her husband fighting.

Karli Jo and her attorney, Seth Baldwin, argued police initially told her they weren’t going to arrest her, but that changed when they found out her identity.

“The police treated her like the aggressor when they found out who she was,” Baldwin said. “She was arrested only after the police found out who she was. That doesn’t mean they get to decide if she’s guilty of domestic assault. She’s a victim.”

Prosecuting Attorney Bruce Swanson, who argued against Cox’s release a week ago, said it’s irrelevant who the aggressor was.

“She lasted three to four days on probation, and under the statute, the police had to arrest her,” Swanson said. “Probation is a privilege and she violated it. She should be sent back to serve the rest of her sentence.”

Judge James Heckerman agreed with Swanson, expressing regret he ever released Cox.
“When I stick my neck out on someone who I think will prosper on probation, I don’t care who is the aggressor,” Heckerman said.  “She didn’t last a week out, not one week. She showed poor judgment again just like with the death of those kids. I don’t trust her on the streets.”

Cox was led away from the courtroom in handcuffs, and will be taken to the Oakdale prison facility for evaluation.

Before her release July 17, she had been serving her 10-year sentence in the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville following her transfer from Oakdale.