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Mother gets 20 to 40 years for the death of a toddler found in ravine

PITTSBURGH – A Pittsburgh-area woman who wrote on Facebook that “Mama loves you, my angel,” after her 3-year-old daughter was found dead in a ravine, was sentenced Tuesday to 20 to 40 years behind bars for killing her.

Adriene Williams, 27, of Wilkinsburg, refused a plea bargain that would have sent her to prison for 15 to 30 years. She was convicted at trial in August of third-degree murder and other charges in the death of her daughter, Adrionna.

Williams maintained her innocence Tuesday, but the judge was unmoved and handed down the maximum punishment.

“You took a baby from safety, put her in harm’s way, then choked her,” Allegheny County Judge Anthony Mariani told her.

The plaintiffs claim Williams asphyxiated Adrionna — they never said how or where to leave the girl’s body in a wooded area of Swissvale in June 2015. Williams’ lawyer argued the failure to pinpoint exactly where and how the girl died meant that Williams should not be condemned.

But the prosecutors said a mountain of circumstantial evidence showed that Williams killed the little girl.

Surveillance video and cell phone records show Williams drove to and from the area where the girl’s body was found, despite the fact that they drove to work in a different area, while the girl was at her grandmother’s house that day.

Police found several colored paper clips near the girl’s body is similar to clips later found in Williams’ car. Also in the car were small stains of mud and Williams’ uniform shirt, which is stained with the girl’s DNA and watermelon — a treatment of the girl was eating, just before she was last seen.

Police believe Williams to work as a guard for the girl to follow her outside on the porch. No one saw what happened after that, though the girl’s grandmother, aunt and two cousins in the duplex all assumed that Williams for the work, police said.

Family members recalled that Williams seemed to be annoyed that her daughter needed help cleaning himself after using the bathroom shortly before Williams was supposed to leave for work. The prosecutors argued that Williams was overwhelmed as a single parent while working and studying for a criminal justice degree.

Sonja Crosby, Adrionna, the grandmother of father’s side, and held a pink urn with a teddy bear on it with the girl’s ashes as she spoke after the sentencing.

“I would not be holding my grandbaby in an urn,” she said.

Adrionna’s body was discovered by a dog walker about 40 minutes after her family reported her missing June 14.

The morning after Adrionna’s body was found, Williams lamented to her daughter on Facebook, writing, “Give me my angel back, please” and “Mommy loves you, my angel.” The girl’s death also prompted a march a few days later as leaders of the community decried the crime and asked the public to help find her killer.

Williams was charged months later.

Prosecutors had asked for a first degree murder conviction, which means that Williams acted out of malice, and intent, but the jury came back with a third degree murder conviction — malice, but not intentional — after four days of deliberations.

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This story is corrected to show Williams is 27, not 37.

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