Outburst in Court After Women Sentenced for Killing 3-Year-Old

5:19 PM, Nov 3, 2011   |    comments
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SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (AP, WLTX) -- Two Summerville women have been sentenced to life in prison in the death of a 3-year-old girl in their care.

A judge sentenced Erica Mae Butts and Shanita Latrice Cunningham on Thursday in the 2009 death of Serenity Richardson.

The sentencing in the case got very emotional, as the women fell on the ground following the judge's decision, and ultimately had to be wheeled out of court in chairs. Family members of the women began to shriek in court when the ruling was reached.

Police said Butts was caring for the girl while her mother tried to move from Detroit. Cunningham was living with Butts at the time of the girl's death. Authorities said Serenity had bruises all over her body, a large burn on her leg and was beaten with a belt after wetting her pants.

Both women had been charged with homicide by child abuse.

Butts entered an Alford plea, meaning she maintains her innocence but acknowledged that she would likely be found guilty. Cunningham pleaded guilty.

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