Woman pleads guilty, gets life for starving newborn daughter to death in Florida

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — An Indiana woman has been sentenced to life in prison for starving her newborn daughter to death in Florida.

The Ledger reports that 26-year-old Ruby Stephens was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty to first-degree murder.

“I will never understand why this woman did this to her precious baby,” said State Attorney Brian Haas to the Ledger. “Life in prison, without the possibility of parole, is an appropriate sentence for her. We refused to accept any less.”

Police say Stephens and her husband, Roy, had traveled from Indiana to Polk County, Florida, in December 2014 to spend the holidays with his sister. Ruby noticed the baby, Betsey Kee Stephens, was unresponsive during a stop in Lakeland, and paramedics responded.

The baby was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. Reports state that the baby weighed only 4 pounds, 2 pounds less than she weighed at birth 22 days earlier.

Authorities say the child had been conceived while Ruby Stephens was having an extramarital affair. Prosecutors said the child’s paternity had created strain in the couple’s relationship.

"She gave her motive for the crime being that the baby was from an extramarital affair, and indicated that (Stephens) wanted to keep the child despite its origins,” documents stated.

Two inmates reportedly heard Ruby Stephens admit to starving her daughter, saying that she only pretended to breastfeed the baby on the trip to Florida.

Roy Stephens received a life sentence after being convicted last month of first-degree murder and other charges. He testified that he didn’t know his wife wasn’t feeding the baby and had accepted the child as his daughter.

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