Mom who blamed baby's death on toddler daughter gets prison

AP News
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Posted: Mar 31, 2015 10:01 PM

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — An Alabama woman who blamed the death of her infant son on her toddler daughter has been sentenced in Pennsylvania to 15 to 30 years in prison.

Thirty-two-year-old Wendi Stanford, of Florence, wept and trembled in court on Tuesday as she again professed her innocence in the November 2003 death of 2-month-old Christopher Harbin in Allentown, where she used to live. She called herself "a mother who has suffered, not a violent monster."

But a judge imposed the maximum term, saying he was disturbed that she blamed another child.

Allentown police said Stanford's daughter, now a teenager, started crying when she found out how her brother really died.

An autopsy concluded that Christopher died from a skull fracture. Prosecutors alleged Stanford shook Christopher and banged his head against furniture, and they called her "a woman who killed her son and almost got away with it."

"The defendant took her son's life," Lehigh County Deputy District Attorney Anna-Kristie Morffi Marks said.

Stanford, who has four other children, said her daughter knocked Christopher out of a baby swing and he hit his head on a carpeted floor. But three doctors testified his injuries were inconsistent with a fall from a baby swing.

Witnesses said that at the hospital where Christopher was treated before he died Stanford loudly and deliberately kept telling her daughter, "It's not your fault. It's not your fault."

Police initially looked into Christopher's death in 2003, but Stanford and her family later moved to their native Alabama.

Stanford was arrested there in 2013 following a grand jury investigation. She was convicted in January of murder and child endangerment.

"I am not a violent person, and I belong home with my family," she said. "My children need me."

Stanford's relatives testified on her behalf at her trial, saying she was a caring mother and wouldn't hurt a child. Her attorney plans to appeal.