A Florida mom who was convicted of killing her daughter and keeping her in a freezer has been sentenced to 65 years behind bars.
Keishanna Thomas, 33, was sentenced Aug. 9 after pleading no contest to charges of second-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and abuse of a dead body, reports the Daily Mail.
The body of 11-year-old Janiya Thomas was found in October 2015 in a freezer that her mother had delivered to a relative's, according to authorities.
"I'm doing this, Your Honor, because I feel this is in my best interest and that I don't want to put my kids through a trial," Keishanna told the judge, explaining her plea.
Prosecutor Arthur Brown declared the case to be "the most horrific child death" he had ever dealt with, reports WFLA.
"We felt this was a good disposition. It saved the remaining children who would’ve been witnesses in the case the trauma of having to relive an absolutely horrific series of events,” Brown explained, adding that the verdict will "prevent her from having access to children for the remainder of her life."
The indictment alleges that Keishanna killed Janiya through some combination of starving, asphyxiation and drowning.
However, the medical examiner could not definitively determine a cause of death, said Brown. "I think the fact that she had been frozen for so long affected the medical examiner’s ability to specifically identify the mechanism of death, but it was obvious in his eyes that it was the result of homicidal violence including chronic malnutrition."
Florida authorities first noticed Janiya was missing in October 2015, when the Manatee County's Child Protective Investigations attempted to take custody of Keishanna's five children but were unable to locate Janiya.
Acting on a tip from Janiya's aunt and grandmother, police eventually found her body in a freezer, where it had been stored for up to 16 months.
Janiya reportedly suffered from severe incontinence. "That's one of the reasons the mother was frustrated with the child and kept the child in the bathroom at her residence," explained Bradenton Police Department spokesman Lt. James Racky.
Thomas had apparently been under investigation by child protective services, but always had an excuse for why Janiya wasn't around when authorities came calling.
A state report alleged that protective services and partnering agencies failed to accurately assess the pattern of violence at the Thomas home for years.
The problem of child abuse is prevalent across all parts of the society, according to the organization Love Our Children USA. "Violence and neglect against children does not discriminate … It knows no color, no race. It happens in every city, town and state."
And child victims often become victimizers as adults. "They can be full of anger, can mistrust in relationships, are more apt to commit road rage, and more horrific violent acts, and contribute to the high cost of our mental health and welfare programs. Their self-esteem is shattered. They can grow up to be adults who continue the cycle of violence and neglect against children."