Cherie Amoore: 1.5 to 7 years in state prison for baby-snatching

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Cherie Amoore, convicted in the kidnapping of an infant from the King of Prussia Mall, was sentenced late Monday afternoon to 1.5 to 7 years in prison.

Amoore’s sentence came after a full day of testimony in a Montgomery County courtroom, mostly about her mental status in March 2016 when the baby boy was snatched from his mother.

A doctor who evaluated her said Amoore was experiencing a “disassociative episode” when she took the 7-week-old boy from his mother.

Dr. Gerald Cooke said he diagnosed the 33-year-old Wayne woman with borderline personality disorder, depersonalization disorder, and major depressive disorder after two separate psychological evaluations.

And when Amoore walked out of the mall with Malika Lewis-Hunter’s 7-week-old baby on March 31, 2016, she did not realize what she was doing was wrong, Cooke said.

“There is a very blurry line for her between reality and fantasy” Cooke said. “She is confused and confusing.”

When Amoore held the crying baby, “she believed that was her baby at that point,” even referring to him by a name she had chosen for her future child, Cooke said.

Dressed in black, Amoore sat quietly in the Norristown courtroom Monday morning during the first portion of her sentencing.

The daughter of deputy chairman of the State Republican Committee Renee Amoore, Cherie Amoore faces a maximum sentence of 12 ½ to 27 years in state prison for kidnapping and concealing the wheareabouts of a child. Amoore was convicted in March after a brief bench trial, in which neither the prosecution nor the defense presented arguments. Renee Amoore did not appear to be in the courtroom Monday morning.

Cherie Amoore was stoic, staring straight ahead and wiping away tears as Lewis-Hunter described the ordeal she went through on the evening of the kidnapping.

“I was scared. I didn’t know what to do,” Lewis-Hunter said through tears. “It was like everything around me was going so fast. I didn’t know where to go, who to go to.”

The 27-year-old from Philadelphia said she had gone to the mall that day for a family outing with her three cousins and two children, who were 7-weeks-old and 2-years-old at the time. It was Lewis-Hunter’s first trip to the King of Prussia Mall.

When Amoore first approached Lewis-Hunter’s family, she was “real nice, pleasant, respectful,” Lewis-Hunter said.

Amoore told Lewis-Hunter that she had just moved to the Philadelphia area from Virginia. Amoore said her husband was in the military. And Amoore said she, too, had a newborn baby, even talking with Lewis-Hunter about postpartum depression, said Lewis-Hunter, who later found out none of those statements was true.

“How about we hang out sometime since I’m new here and you can show me around?” Lewis-Hunter recalled Amoore asking her.

Lewis-Hunter gave Amoore her phone number, but then said she got distracted by her children and never asked for Amoore’s contact information.

After Amoore followed Lewis-Hunter and her family into the main food court at the Plaza section of the sprawling mall, Amoore fled with the newborn baby when Lewis-Hunter turned away to care for another child.

The kidnapping resulted in an extensive search, Upper Merion Township Det. Robert Smull said Monday. Police stopped and searched every vehicle, including 20 – 30 SEPTA buses, that left the mall that evening, Smull said. An Ambert Alert was issued later that night.

Lewis-Hunter said since the incident, she does not go anywhere without her two children. A school bus driver, Lewis-Hunter now wakes her children up at 3:30 take them on the bus with her, she said. They were with her at the Montgomery County Courthouse on Monday.

“I’m not comfortable with them being with anyone else,” Lewis-Hunter said. “Every day is a struggle.”

Cooke, the psychologist who evaluated Amoore, said Amoore craves attention and has difficulty processing anger and stress. Cooke said Amoore was angry at her mother Renee for working alot and not being around when she was a child. This childhood anger has affected her adult personality, Cooke said.

Cooke said Amoore requires individual therapy, which is not often available in prison. The best situation for Amoore, Cooke said, would be treatment in a private hospital or house arrest with outpatient therapy.

Cooke was called by Amoore’s defense team, led by attorney Marc Steinberg. Assistant District Attorney Brianna Ringwood has said she will seek a stiff prison sentence.

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