An Alabama mother has been sentenced to life in prison after admitting she smothered her daughter in 2016 during an apparent medical episode.
Stephanie Smith, also known by the name Stephanie Cooper, agreed to plead guilty to murder — rather than capital murder — and was sentenced to life on Monday for the death of her 4-year-old daughter, Zadie Cooper, local outlet WAFF reported. She is eligible for parole but there is no timeline for when she would become eligible.
In July 2016, Smith called 911 and reported her daughter wasn't breathing. Responding officials found Smith performing CPR and transported Cooper to the hospital. There, she was pronounced brain dead and removed from life support.
Smith had told investigators she found Cooper wedged between her bed and the wall. Smith was not arrested or charged at the time, though the death was still believed to be suspicious, police said.
Then, nine months after her daughter's death, Smith walked into the Athens Police Department and confessed to killing her daughter, according to the Athens News Courier.
She told police that she was off her medication at the time of Cooper's death and was not initially aware of what she was doing to her when she placed a pillow over her face and smothered her.
Athens police Chief Floyd Johnson Johnson said Smith told authorities that when she is off her medication she "sees red," according to reporting in the Atlanta Journal Constitution in 2017. But she was completely lucid during her confession.
“Yesterday, it was very clear (that) she was in a very good frame of mind,” Johnson said in 2017. “She knew exactly what she was doing. She was talking with us. She wanted to get this out, that she had caused this.”
Smith told authorities she misled them during the initial investigation because she feared consequences from what she had done, Johnson told the News Courier at the time.
Smith has remained incarcerated at the Limestone County jail since she confessed to the killing in 2017.
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