A mother in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, beat and tortured her daughter so badly that she suffered irreperable brain damage and was put on a feeding tube—likely for the rest of her life.
Amber Hall, 26, was sentenced to 40 years in prison on charges of aggravated child abuse and child neglect on Tuesday, State Attorney R.J. Larizza told Oxygen.com. Hall pleaded no contest to the accusations.
Larizza called the abuse "sadistic" and "incomprehensible."
"Child victim cases are our most challenging and heartbreaking," he said. "A 22-month-old child is totally defenseless and totally dependent on its caregivers, and it makes it worse when a biological parent abuses a child like this. It's egregious and incomprehensible."
The issue came to light in September of 2017, when Hall brought her daughter to a local hospital. The child was in terrible shape, Larizza said. She had bruising and burn marks all over her body, she didn't have any teeth and her gums were gray from disease. The child also kept going in and out of consciousness.
She had to have several procedures, one to relieve pressure on her brain because of a traumatic injury. In addition to requiring assistance to eat, the child, Larizza said, is also unable to communicate verbally.
In Florida, doctors are required by law to report abuse, so police and social services were contacted after the child's admission into the hospital.
Police then went to a nearby motel where her husband and the girl's stepfather, Harold Hall III, was staying with Hall's pre-teen son, according to a police report obtained by Oxygen.com.
They found evidence of drug use, and whe they questioned the husband, they realized he was complicit in the abuse, though not necessarily the primary culprit, Larizza said.
Hall III, however, was later sentenced to 25 years for his involvement.
Officers also found an assault rifle and two ski masks in the motel room, the report said, but the boy was unharmed.
The most damning evidence came from Hall's cell phone, Larizza said. After officers obtained a search warrant for the phone, they found disturbing videos of Hall abusing the child, including hog-tying her to a bed and beating her.
"They were videos of [Hall] tying and taping this small child," he said, "and also berating her verbally and abusing her physically."
On the videos, Larizza said, Hall can be heard joking around with her husband that she would meet him when she was done with what she was doing to the girl.
Without the videos, Larizza said, it may have been more difficult to prosecute the case.
"A 22-month-old child can't testify," he said, adding that without the evidence Hall may have argued that some of the injuries were accidental.
Prosecutors argued for the maximum penalty in the case, Larizza said, which would have been 105 years. It was up to the discretion of the Circuit Judge Dennis Craig to decide her punishment, he said.
The child's grandmother, Jeannie Hudson, told WESH-TV in Orlando that "there are no winners here."
"It still won't bring our baby back, though,” she told the station. “She deserves everything she gets while she's there.”
Larizza underscored the importance of holding people like Hall accountable for their actions.
"Unfortunately it's not the first time we've seen god awful videos of defendants abusing children," he said. "But to be able to do something about it, that's what keeps prosecutors doing what they do."
[Photo: Volusia County Jail]
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