A Pennsylvania mother has eluded the death penalty after reaching a plea deal in the murder case of her son, who died after several brutal beatings from her and her boyfriend.
Jillian Tait, 33, and her boyfriend, Gary Lee Fellenbaum III, 25, were arrested in 2014 for beating Tait's sons, 3-year-old Scott McMillan and his 6-year-old brother, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
According to authorities, the couple hit Scott with their fists, frying pans, metal rods and whips. They also allegedly strapped the boy to a chair with electrical, tape and beat him until he was unconscious.
On at least one occasion, Tait and Fellenbaum hung the children upside down and assaulted them while they were suspended by their feet, prosecutors said.
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Scott died from his injuries on Nov. 4, 2014, after brutal beatings that occurred at Fellenbaum's mobile home in West Caln Township, police said.
The couple allegedly beat Scott into an unresponsive state and then placed his body on an uninflated air mattress. Police say they then went car shopping, bought pizza and engaged in sexual activity as the child lay unconscious.
Tait pleaded guilty to third-degree murder to escape the death penalty. She also admitted to conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, endangering the welfare of children, assault and other related charges.
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First assistant district attorney Michael Noone told County Judge William P. Mahon that prosecutors reached the plea deal because Tait accepted responsibility for her actions and agreed to testify against Fellenbaum.
Prosecutors argued that while Tait''s violence towards her son may have contributed to his death, it was Fellenbaum's actions that ultimately killed him.
Fellenbaum's trial is scheduled to begin in September. He is facing charges of first-degree murder, third-degree murder, criminal homicide and other charges related to Scott's death. Prosecutors said they will pursue the death penalty for him, the Daily Mail reported.
Fellenbaum's estranged wife, Amber, was also arrested in 2014. She lived in the mobile home while the abuse took place, but failed to report it to police. She called 911 on the day of Scott's death, after he was unresponsive for hours, according to police.
Amber pleaded guilty to two counts each of endangering the welfare of children and reckless endangerment. She also agreed to testify against her husband.
Although she avoided the death penalty, Tait is still facing anywhere between 64 and 128 years in prison. Amber could be sentenced to anywhere between nine to 18 years.
Both women will be sentenced after the conclusion of Fellenbaum's trial.