DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit woman was sentenced Monday to at least 23 years in prison for fatally stabbing her 8-year-old daughter, whom a court had refused to remove from the home despite allegations of abuse.
The "system failed" Tameria Greene, Wayne County Judge Margaret Van Houten said as she sentenced Semeria Greene under a plea deal between prosecutors and defense lawyers.
Greene, 27, apologized for killing the girl, telling the judge in a soft voice that her death was an "accidental mistake."
"I miss my daughter," she said.
But assistant prosecutor Carin Goldfarb said Greene had choices and made the wrong one.
"This is just further evidence of Ms. Greene's manipulation. ... Tameria was 8 years old. She was a chronically abused child," Goldfarb said.
The Michigan Department of Human Services tried to immediately remove Tameria and four siblings from the home in November 2012. But Family Court Referee Richard Smart declined, suggesting instead that their mother should move out in the short term or place the children elsewhere.
The detailed petition presented to Smart said Tameria had been bitten by her mother on her hand, forearm and face. The agency said there were multiple marks and bruises elsewhere.
The state didn't appeal Smart's decision, and more court hearings were planned. Tameria was killed five weeks later.
Greene pleaded guilty in March to second-degree murder. She'll be eligible for parole after 23 years in prison; her maximum stay is 50 years.
Smart declined to comment about his handling of the custody case. The Department of Human Services also declined to comment after the sentencing.
The criminal case has lasted more than a year, mostly because of delays related to Greene's mental health. The judge noted that experts found depression but not bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
"Mental illness does not cause child abuse or child murder," Goldfarb told Van Houten.
Defense attorney Cornelius Pitts didn't refer to specific mental conditions but said Greene was "born with a deficit that cannot be overcome."
"Ms. Greene is the victim of the system," he said.
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