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Foster mom sentenced to 31 years in baby's death

Posted: 12:32 PM, Dec 01, 2015
Updated: 2015-12-01 19:32:32Z

A foster mother is going to prison for child abuse resulting in death and tampering with physical evidence.

Sydney White, 21, was sentenced to 31 years in prison, according to KJCT-TV .

Under a plea deal, White pleaded guilty in August to the death of 11-month old Angel Place. Angel was White's sister-in-law's child.

Social workers removed Angel from her biological parents and placed her with White and her husband and their two young children in July 2014.

The Grand Junction Police Department said White told investigators she "accidentally dropped" the infant, Angel Lane Place, on the floor September 12, 2014 and then on September 15, grabbed her by the neck and shook her.

Police said Angel arrived at Children's Hospital in Aurora from Grand Junction on September 16 and was taken off life support the next day. The coroner said Angel died of "blunt force head injuries" and ruled her death a homicide.

White told police that Angel suffered a minor cut on her lip and a bloody nose in the incident on September 12, and said Angel hit her head in the fall.

According to an arrest affidavit, White said that on the morning of September 15, Angel was screaming and she couldn’t get her to stop. She told police she held the baby "by the neck with both hands and shook her multiple times." She said she stopped after one of her children then came into the room and said, "Mommy, stop it," and put Angel to sleep.

"White said the baby initially became lethargic and wouldn’t wake up, but that later she appeared to be doing better," police said in a statement sent to 7NEWS. "Later that night White took Angel to St. Mary’s Hospital when Angel’s right side became stiff and she was unresponsive."

CALL7 Investigator Theresa Marchetta spoke with Angel's biological mother, Tierra Place, who said her daughter had been removed from her home because she and her husband fought, and said her husband told human services he used marijuana.

Place said her brother is married to White, and she approved of Angel being placed with the couple. She said her brother checked in with White every day.

"This is like losing her twice. I don't know how someone could possibly do that to a baby," she said. "Inside I know she is walking with God."

"You know I was seeing pictures of her, seeing videos, you know she was doing good, she was making good progress, and I was ok with the situation she was in," Ted Place, Angel's father, said. "And then, all of a sudden, I had just found out that your daughter is in urgent care in Denver, Colorado, and you need to come there. I just want Mesa County to pay for what they've done."

The Mesa County Department of Human Services website lists 21 as the minimum age to become a foster parent, and officials with Colorado DHS confirmed that is a state-wide policy. But counties can make exceptions for situations known as kinship placements, in which children are placed with adult relatives 18 or older.

The CALL7 Investigators looked into Sydney White's background and found no criminal history.

The District Attorney's office says White could have faced up to 51 years in prison.

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