Columbia, SC (WLTX, AP) - A judge has sentenced Zinah Jennings to 10 years in prison in connection with the disappearance of her son, Amir Jennings.
His decision came about 30 minutes after a jury returned a guilty verdict against the woman on a charge of unlawful conduct toward a child.
The jury needed less than three hours of deliberation to reach their conclusion.
Police say Amir was last seen during a visit to a bank with his mother back in November of last year.
During the trial, prosecutors brought over three dozen witnesses to testify. The defense called just two, including Zinah Jennings's mother.
Some of the prosecution witnesses testified the mother said she was stressed and needed a break from the boy. Her mother said she didn't believe her daughter would have ever harmed him.
Zinah Jennings never took the stand in her own defense.
During deliberations, the judge receivedtwo notes from thejury: one requested acopy of thestatute, the other asked for12 copies of Jennings's statements to police.
Before sentencing, the judge heard from Zinah Jennings's mother, Jocelyn Jennings Nelson. She begged the judge to show mercy on her child, acknowledging that her daughter is troubled.
"I noticed it [motherhood]was difficult (for her)," Jennings Nelson said. "I noticed she was depressed and needed help. I went agency to agency to get help."
Zinah Jennings herself did not speak.
The judge, however, wasn't swayed, saying that a mother should want to protect her child, and that he "doesn't take into account what family members have to say when sentencing."
The judge did say Jennings would get credit for time served, which is about nine months.