AKRON, Ohio - A Summit County jury has found a baby sitter guilty in the death of a 23-month-old girl she was watching.
The guilty verdicts against Tiffani Calise, 20, includes convictions for murder, involuntary manslaughter and child endangering. It was announced just before 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Judge Alison McCarty sentenced Calise to 15 years to life in prison for the death of Aaliyah Ali.
Prior to sentencing, Aaliyah's mother, Gabrielle Moneypenny, faced Calise and said, "I don't know why you did this to her. You have ruined my life."
Moments later, a sobbing Calise said to the judge, "I would never harm a child. I never hurt Aaliyah. For me to be found guilty on something I didn't do, it just shows how messed up all this can get."
She said she is planning to appeal the verdict.
At the time of the incident on Aug. 9, 2010, paramedics were called to Calise's apartment in Green for a report of a child unresponsive. The toddler died a couple days later at Akron Children’s Hospital from critical injuries.
According to the Summit County Sheriff’s Department, Calise told deputies she found the child limp in the bath tub. But authorities later found the child’s injuries were not consistent with that story.
Prosecutors said during the trial that Aaliyah died from shaken baby syndrome. The defense argued that the injuries happened when the girl fell and hit her head in the bathtub.
"She was shaken by her (Calise). Violently shaken by her and caused massive brain damage and it did not happen from a fall in the tub," said Greg Peacock, assistant Summit County prosecutor.
Moneypenny believes the verdict means justice for Aaliyah.
"She was the most perfect baby I could ever have imagined. She's wonderful, always laughed, was always happy. I love her so much. I would do anything in the world to have her back," Moneypenny said.
Calise’s 2-year-old daughter was taken into the custody of family members following the murder charge.
Calise also delivered a second child while in custody for the murder. That child is also staying with a relative, according to prosecutors.
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