Update: In June, we reported that Sydney White appeared ready to accept a plea deal on charges related to the death of Angel Place, an eleven-month-old who died in her care last year; this post incorporates our earlier coverage.
Instead, prosecutors asked for and received a delay in the proceedings against her.
Now, White has accepted the plea, which reduced what could have been a 51-year sentence. But she's still been given a huge jolt for the crime, which is said to have involved her kicking the toddler in the head.
“I did a horrible thing that I am not proud of,” she said yesterday in court. “I hate myself for it.”
As we've reported, Angel's biological mother was Tierra Place. She said White and her husband — Place's 21-year-old brother — took custody of her daughter in July 2014.
The baby had previously been taken out of Place's home because of the couple's fighting and her husband's admission that he used marijuana.
As such, Angel joined a family that already included two children. White's Facebook page, which described her as a stay-at-home mom, featured photos and videos of her kids — one a toddler as of last summer, when the page was last updated, the other considerably younger.
But within a matter of months, things went terribly wrong for the new addition.
Although White and her family live in Grand Junction, Angel died at Children's Hospital in Aurora. She was flown there in September, but she didn't respond to treatment. The arrest report shared here notes that she was taken off life support on Wednesday morning, September 17 and was declared dead early that afternoon.
A subsequent autopsy revealed a large bruise on her right temple area, above the hairline. The cause of death was most likely blunt-force trauma, a doctor told investigators.
Meanwhile, White met with law enforcers. The report stresses that she voluntarily revealed incidents that preceded Angel's death.
On September 12, she said, she was holding Angel in the bathroom while tending to one of her kids when she dropped the baby on the floor.
Although Angel landed on her head, White maintained that the baby suffered only a minor cut on her lip and a bloody nose.
Childrens Hospital in Aurora, where Angel died.
White reported no ill effects from the fall for several days. But on Monday, September 15, she reportedly said Angel began screaming and wouldn't stop.
During the interview, White allegedly admitted that in response to the inconsolable child, she "held Angel by the neck with both hands and shook her multiple times." The warrant quotes her as admitting she was "out of control" and lost track of how long the shaking went on — but at one point, the older of her kids came into the room and said, "Mommy, stop it."
She said she did so and then put Angel down to sleep. Afterward, she called someone whose name is blotted out in the document to report anxiety about Angel's condition. But when Angel awakened, White insisted that the baby seemed better
This improvement didn't last — and when her condition continued to deteriorate, Angel was taken to St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction. She was in such dire condition that she was soon flown to Aurora for treatment.
After White's arrest on suspicion of child abuse resulting in death, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel uncovered evidence of a previous abuse allegation aimed at White.
A cropped image of Sydney White from her Facebook page.
In July, when Angel was eight months old, Misty Blackwell, who served as the baby's foster mom before White took over, saw a mark over the baby's right eye. She had just been returned to Blackwell by White.
The caseworker assigned to oversee Angel's well-being was informed about Blackwell's concerns, but a report obtained by the Sentinel states that "no scratches were seen on Baby Angel during the handoff," and as a result, there was "no probable cause for charges."
After Angel's death, prosecutors had no such issues. According to KJCT-TV, White was formally accused of first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death.
Blackwell spoke at yesterday's hearing, the Sentinel notes, pointing out that she had been planning to adopt Angel.
Additionally District Attorney Dan Rubinstein surmised that the damage to Angel's head came not from a drop but as a result of White kicking her so hard that she wouldn't have been able to do so from a standstill. She "would have had to have stepped into it," Rubinstein said.
White was also accused of concocting a scheme to get out of jail with the assistance of an undated letter she'd asked her husband to write.
Such a missive won't help her now. She's been sentenced to thirty years behind bars, in addition to a consecutive one-year sentence for evidence tampering.
Look below to see a larger version of White's booking photo, followed by a 7News piece broadcast shortly after White's arrest, a KJCT report about the June delay and the aforementioned arrest warrant.
Grand Junction Police Department