Stephanie Spurgeon sentenced to 15 years in daycare death

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. - UPDATE: Stephanie Spurgeon, 37, was given the maximum sentence of 15 years in the manslaughter death of a 1-year-old girl.


Spurgeon was found guilty of manslaughter this past February. 

In 2008, Maria Harris, one, was dropped off at Spurgeon's Edgehill Drive home where she ran a licensed daycare facility.

The child's family says the girl was alert and happy when she was dropped off, but was sluggish and sleepy when they picked her up.

She quickly became unresponsive and her family took her to the hospital where she was treated for serious head injuries.  Harris died several days later.

Deputies believe Spurgeon aggressively shook the one-year-old.
She was initially charged with aggravated child abuse in August, but the charge was upgraded to murder following a two and a half month investigation.

Spurgeon turned in her daycare license following her arrest.
Spurgeon remained emotionless in court as Maria's family begged the Judge Cynthia Newton to make an example of her.
"I love that baby so much," said Patricia Harris, Maria's grandmother.  "I would have gladly died in her place but couldn't."
Maria's mother, Esther, was so upset, a victim's advocate had to read aloud a letter she wrote.
"You killed my baby," wrote Esther.  "Why Stephanie?  What did Maria do to you?"
Both Esther and Patricia told the judge that unlike Spurgeon, who will one day see her grandchildren, Maria is gone forever.
"Her dead, listless body we did get to hold before they took her down to the operating room to remove her body parts to save other babies," Patricia added while sobbing.
Going off advice from defense attorney, family and friends of Spurgeon did not address the judge.  Instead, Spurgeon's attorney reminded the judge of all the letters members of the community and other children watched by Spurgeon sent on her behalf.
Outside of court, Spurgeon's mother spoke to media and called the sentence a grave injustice.
"We are looking at a daycare provider with a huge following and we are looking at a teenage mom with anger management issues," said Jan Mitchell. 
Mitchell vowed to fight on for her daughter and has even started " The Stephanie Spurgeon Foundation ."  The petition site is targeted at Gov. Rick Scott.  Mitchell is asking for people to sign the petition because she feels her daughter was wrongfully accused and convicted.
Mitchell is asking for 1,000 signatures and has received more than 740.
"They need to look at the real problem [Esther] in this case," Mitchell said.
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