Illinois 19th Circuit Court Judge James Booras sentenced 35-year-old Nicholette Lawrence to 43 years in prison for killing her 11-year-old daughter Raashanai Coley. The 67-pound girl died on September 5, 2014, two days after her mother allegedly punched her in the stomach. Medical examiners determined that the resulting fatal blow ultimately led to an infection, killing the child. According to a tape transcript obtained by People magazine, Coley lived in a locked closet in her parents' bedroom and was served one bowl of cereal a day for meals. The closet was furnished with a sink and a covered window to prevent light from entering inside.

Interviews from 2014 show Coley's half-brother, who was 6-years-old at the time, telling investigators that his parents said his sister was bad. The small boy added that Raashanai Coley never ate with the family, his mother would beat the girl with her hands or a belt and other relatives would sometimes discipline her with a stick. In addition, the autopsy report revealed the girl bore scars which indicated a long history of physical abuse.

Cruelty beyond measure

Video footage of Lawrence screaming at and savagely beating her daughter was shown during sentencing hearings while the person recording it could be heard in the background snickering. Even though Coley's stepfather knew of the brutal beatings, he will not face criminal charges connected to her murder.

Crime and punishment

During the sentencing, Judge Booras told the court that he suspects Nicholette Lawrence planned her daughter's death. He continued with verbal chastisement directed at the defendant and others who treated the young child like a wild animal. The judge noted that such cruelty is usually done at the hands of a stranger or some totally evil individual.

Booras ruled the defendant will not be eligible for early release, ensuring her incarceration lasts until she's around 76 years of age. Lawrence did read a statement apologizing for her actions. The prison-bound mom said she hopes to stop others from making the same horrible mistake.