A Florida woman whose newborn baby was beaten to death by her 6-year-old son after she left them alone was sentenced on May 8.
Kathleen Steele, 62, received a five-year probation sentence, according to WFLA. She had previously pleaded guilty to leaving her newborn child unattended in a van with the 6-year-old and her other son, who was 3, while she went into a cell phone store.
While Steele was in the store, the baby began to cry. That's when the 6-year-old, who has behavioral issues, removed her from her car seat and started violently shaking her. He also slammed her head against the ceiling.
"The best way I can describe it to you is he pummeled her," Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said at the time. "He was tossing that baby around like a rag doll."
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"One of the worst things I’ve ever seen, with especially a 13-day-old, and her appearance was just of one that had been pummeled," he added. "The baby was simply beaten, traumatized, gross swelling about her face. The skull was cracked in numerous places."
After she was done at the cell phone store, Steele drove to a rental car business to renew a contract on the van she was driving. She stayed inside for 30 minutes, despite her son telling her that the baby was in distress.
After returning to the motel where she was staying, Steele called her neighbor, a nurse, and asked her to take a look at her baby. The nurse called 911 immediately upon seeing the girl's condition.
While paramedics attempted to revive the baby, Steele was reportedly putting away groceries in the kitchen. Gualtieri said she expressed little or no concern about the fate of her daughter.
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"She was very aloof about it," he said.
An autopsy revealed that the newborn suffered severe head injuries and multiple skull fractures.
"Those of us who have been ... in this business for a very long time have never seen anything like this," Gualtieri stated.
When detectives questioned Steele's son, he used a doll to demonstrate what took place in the van.
"We had him show us with a doll, and it was very violent," the sheriff said. "He was slamming that doll, and it’s terrible."
Steele gave birth to her children through artificial insemination after her husband died of cancer. When she was pregnant with the 6-year-old, she appeared on a reality show called "I'm Pregnant and 55 Years Old."
The 6-year-old was not criminally charged. He and his younger brother were delivered into the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families.