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Couple Handed 32-Year Prison Sentence For Torturing Toddler, Burying Her Body In The Desert
Samiah Downing was a “sweet and happy little girl,” loved ones said of the four-year-old.
A California couple accused in the “heinous” murder of a 4-year-old girl will spend more than three decades in prison, a judge ruled last week.
Ronald Greer and his girlfriend Bianca Stanch were found guilty in October of first-degree murder in the 2012 slaying of his daughter, Samiah Downing. A California judge sentenced the pair to 32 years behind bars on March 12.
“Unfortunately, because of the actions of her father and his girlfriend, Samiah wasn’t here to tell her own story to the jurors,” Deputy District Attorney Justin Crocker said. “Thankfully, the evidence at trial told the tragic story for her. Samiah was betrayed by the people closest to her and they have now been held accountable for that betrayal.”
In 2012, Downing’s remains were found in a makeshift grave in the desert, according to the San Bernardino County District Attorney. The toddler’s autopsy revealed she’d been tortured and eventually died from dehydration. She was also severely undernourished, prosecutors said.
A day prior to her death, Samiah was beaten and forced to stand in a corner for eight hours. The following day, Stanch whipped her with a belt and cords. She later poured boiling water on her back and chest, according to officials.
"On the evening of her death, Samiah began acting lethargic and sleepy,” prosecutors said. “She was locked inside a bedroom within the apartment and was left with Stanch's cousin, Rayshawn Stanch, while Stanch and Greer went to dinner."
Earlier this year, Rayshawn Stanch pleaded guilty to his involvement in the girl's death.
During the couple’s trial, numerous witnesses testified that Greer’s daughter endured “daily beatings” by Bianca Stanch. The young girl was denied water, had her wrists and ankles “duct-taped,” and was locked in her room with a deadbolt. Greer “did not intervene” to stop his daughter’s physical abuse, prosecutors said.
Greer, who took the stand during the trial, denied he was aware of any pattern of child abuse involving Stanch and his daughter. Prosecutors pointed to “several inconsistencies” that arose in court during cross-examination regarding the 2012 slaying and his knowledge of the extreme mistreatment of his daughter.
Family and friends described Samiah Downing as a “sweet and happy little girl,” officials said.
The 2012 case had been delayed for almost a decade at the request of the defense.
“Torturing a child in San Bernardino County will be met with the most vigorous of prosecutions, and those responsible will be held accountable for their actions,” District Attorney Jason Anderson said.
The county’s top prosecutor recounted how Samiah Downing’s murder devastated local residents.
"When Samiah was murdered, our community was also greatly affected by the actions of her killers,” Anderson added. “From Samiah's extended family, friends, and teachers, to the law enforcement officers investigating this crime, to everyone in the district attorney's office that had a part in this case, we will always hold Samiah in our memory and our hearts.”
Authorities urged the public to confidentially report any suspected cases of child abuse to the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453 or by visiting www.childhelp.org.