Two years after she left her 3-year-old daughter to die in a hot SUV, a mother has been found guilty of first-degree murder.
Angela Phakhin, 29, admitted she intentionally left her toddler, Maiya, locked in her vehicle for more than nine hours. She was convicted last month and sentenced on Monday, July 22, to 25 years to life in prison.
Rancho Cordova police had found a car belonging to Phakhin and her fiancé, Untwan Smith, parked incorrectly on a street on June 28, 2017, according to The Los Angeles Times. When police officers confronted the couple, they found that Smith had an outstanding warrant from Arkansas, where the couple lived before they moved to the Sacramento area the year before.
Authorities then searched the vehicle and found Maiya, unresponsive and covered in blankets in the back seat. Maiya was pronounced dead at the scene.
A statement from Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office also noted Phakhin and Smith had previously exposed Maiya to “extreme summer temperatures;" they left the toddler in a car for four and a half hours. The couple had been advised before her daughter’s death to take the child to a cooling shelter multiple times, but they did not comply.
Phakhin had told officers that she had the child in the scorching car in order to “remove the lustful demons from Maiya,” according to the district attorney's office.
Phakhin and Smith were both charged that day with premeditated and deliberate murder and felony murder torture, PEOPLE reports.
Smith is currently awaiting trial on a murder charge. He has yet to enter any pleas.
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