320-pound Florida woman who sat on and killed nine-year-old cousin sentenced to life in prison
A Florida woman who killed a nine-year-old girl by sitting on her and smothering her was found guilty of her charges and sentenced to life in prison. Sixty six-year-old Veronica Green Posey was found guilty of first-degree felony murder in the 2017 death of nine-year-old Dericka Lindsay after a two-day trial in Pensacola.
According to the Pensacola News Journal, jurors were told how Dericka was beaten horrifically by her adoptive parents, James and Grace Smith, as well as her cousin, Posey, when she misbehaved in any form or manner.
The abuse escalated to a critical point on October 14, 2017, said Assistant State Attorney Amy Shea. She said the defendant woken up from her sleep by a phone call from Grace complaining that Dericka and her eight-year-old sister were acting up.
Shea told the court that once Posey was out of her bed, "she was determined to beat these children." She explained the 66-year-old first took a ruler and a thin pipe intended to give the ruler "weight," and then made her way to the Smith home to help Grace beat Dericka.
Posey, who weighs approximately 320 pounds, then forced Dericka to kneel down with her chest on the seat of an armchair and sat on the girl in a bid to get her to behave. The 66-year-old reportedly sat on Dericka for more than five minutes, during which she screamed twice that she couldn't breathe.
After Posey finally decided to get off Dericka's back, she realized the nine-year-old was no longer breathing. She called 9-1-1, but the child had already died. In a subsequent autopsy, the medical examiner found severe bruising on her buttocks which were described as "injury, on top of injury, on top of injury."
Posey's attorney, Michael Griffith, tried to argue that his client had just been trying to help the Smiths and that she did not intend on hurting her cousin. He pointed out that she did not live in the same household as the victim and that if the victim had been seriously or routinely abused, it was at the hands of her parents.
The jury deliberated on the proceedings on Friday morning, and returned with their guilty verdict late afternoon. Judge Jan Shackelford then immediately issued the mandatory life sentence carried by a first-degree felony murder offense.
The Pensacola News Journal reported that James and Grace Smith were charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child, two counts of child abuse without causing great bodily harm and one count of child neglect without causing great bodily harm in connection to Dericka's death.
James pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter of a child this past November and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Grace suffered from severe mental and physical illnesses that prevented her from standing for trial and will face her charges when she recovers.