An Illinois judge on Jan. 17 sentenced a woman and mother he called a “monster mom” to 43 years in prison for killing her abused 11-year-old daughter with a forceful punch to the stomach.
Police arrested Waukegan-based Nicholette Lawrence on Sept. 5, 2014, after her daughter, Raashanai Coley, was found unconscious at their home and later passed away, the Daily Mail reports.
When grilled by the authorities, the 34-year-old confessed to punching her daughter in the stomach two days prior.
Coley died of an infection caused by a stomach rupture — blunt force trauma led to the organ bursting, the Lake County Coroner’s office found.
The autopsy affirmed Coley was starved, weighing just 67 pounds, and was covered in old cigarette burns and scars, indicating the child endured a prolonged period of abuse.
During two days of testimony, the court heard that Coley slept in a locked closet at night without a bed and was frequently hit with a belt, the Daily Herald reports.
On Sept. 3, 2014, Lawrence punched the emaciated girl so hard, the child’s ribs punctured holes in her stomach lining.
Upon sentencing Lawrence to 43 years in jail, Circuit Judge James Booras rhetorically asked: “Who would lock a child up in a closet furnished only with a sink and feed the child only a bowl of cereal a day?”
He further stated that the photos from Coley’s autopsy made the girl look like she had been in a concentration camp, the Chicago Tribune reports.
“How can humans do this?” he said. “Animals don’t do this to their own.”
Lawrence, who also has two other children, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in October of 2016.
Under terms of the sentencing, Lawrence must entirely serve her prison term and cannot be released early on good behavior. The time she has spent in jail since her 2014 arrest will count toward her sentence.
The defendant remained stoic upon hearing her sentence, but in early January, she tearfully apologized for what she had done.
“I just want to say to you and everyone that I am truly sorry for what has happened,” Lawrence said. “There is not a second of the day I am not tormented by pictures in my mind. I rarely sleep.”