US gran jailed over toddler's death

2012-01-07 13:05
Fairfax - A Virginia woman was sentenced onFriday to 35 years for throwing her 2-year-old granddaughter off a walkway at a busy shopping mall, a murder the judge called "almost beyond comprehension".

Carmela dela Rosa, 51, offered a tearful, barely audible apology to her family, saying: "I'm very sorry for what I've done."

Circuit Court Judge Bruce White imposed the full sentence recommended by the jury that convicted her last year. Under Virginia law, White had the option to reduce the sentence to the mandatory minimum of 20 years, but could not go above the jury's recommendation.

Dela Rosa, a naturalised US citizen born in the Philippines, killed her granddaughter Angelyn Ogdoc at the end of a family outing in November 2010 to Tysons Corner Centre.

The evidence at trial showed that she deliberately hung back with Angelyn as the family exited along a nearly 15m skywalk connecting the mall to a multi-level parking garage, so she could scoop up Angelyn and toss her over the guardrail without any interference from her family.

Get back at son-in-law

In a videotaped confession, dela Rosa told police she killed Angelyn to get back at her son-in-law for getting her daughter pregnant out of wedlock and ruining her daughter's opportunities for a better life.

Dela Rosa's lawyer, public defender Dawn Butorac, argued unsuccessfully that dela Rosa's mental illness - severe depression - rendered her legally insane and unable to appreciate the consequences of her actions or understand right from wrong.

Butorac said she will appeal the verdict, and that she believes the jury did not fully appreciate the depth of dela Rosa's depression, which had gotten worse in the year before the murder and led her to attempt suicide on multiple occasions.

Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh said that while it may be more comforting to believe that a grandmother must be crazy to kill her grandchild in such a brutal manner, the evidence showed that dela Rosa was a hateful, spiteful, jealous woman who harboured animosity not only against her son-in-law but also at Angelyn herself for stealing attention away from dela Rosa. She admitted exactly that during her videotaped confession.

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