A Key Largo woman charged with starving her baby to death pleaded guilty Monday morning to aggravated manslaughter minutes before jury selection was to start in her retrial.
Amy Stephenson, 30, was sentenced to 13 years in state prison by Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Mark Jones. She will get credit for time served. She had been in prison from April 2, 2008, until May 7, 2010, when she was released after her first conviction was overturned on appeal.
Stephenson admitted she starved to death her third child, 13-month-old daughter Jasmine. Jasmine was born three months prematurely and suffered numerous medical problems that required her to undergo several operations while remaining hospitalized for six months. When she died on Sept. 6, 2006, she weighed 6 pounds, 9 ounces.
"It's a tragedy what happened to Jasmine," said Francine Donnorummo, an assistant state attorney in Lee County who was to prosecute the case in Key West with colleague Carrie Pollock. The outside prosecutors were brought in because the Monroe County State Attorney's Office was removed from the case.
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That's because then-Assistant State Attorney Catherine Vogel asked Stephenson in her first trial in 2008 whether she considered aborting Jasmine. The Third District Court of Appeal ruled that prejudiced the jury, overturned the guilty verdict -- she had been sentenced to 25 years -- and ordered the retrial.
Before that trial, Stephenson -- who has a tattoo on her left leg that reads "In our hearts, Jasmine" -- rejected a deal that would have resulted in a five-year prison term.
After her plea Monday, she asked Jones if she could serve her sentence in the Broward Correctional Institute, where she was previously held. Jones didn't rule on that request.