A Southwest Philadelphia woman charged with conspiracy in the beating death of her 4-year-old daughter was sentenced Friday to four to eight years in state prison.
Josephita Brown, 27, pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child, involuntary manslaughter, and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault nearly two years ago.
Prosecutors said she covered up for her boyfriend, Edward Golphin, as he repeatedly beat and abused her daughter, Seanita, over two years and did nothing to stop the abuse.
Seanita Brown died in 2013 after a severe beating caused massive internal bleeding. Golphin was charged with first-degree murder in the child's death, but a jury convicted him of third-degree murder instead. Prosecutors charged Brown with lesser charges in exchange for her testimony against him at trial.
On Friday, Brown sat in Common Pleas Court, visibly shaking, as her attorney, David Rudenstein, argued that her cooperation and courage in testifying against Golphin - and her good behavior in prison - should result in a more lenient sentence. Brown also has learning disabilities, he said, and "had to come to grips with the fact that she was criminally responsible for the child's death."
Prosecutor Christine Kemp acknowledged Brown's intellectual limitations, and said Golphin had intimidated and manipulated her, cut her off from her family and friends, and controlled even the smallest details of her life. But, she said, Brown lied to investigators from the city Department of Human Services about Golphin's abuse of the child and stood by as he inflicted horrible injuries.
"She watched him beat her child to death, and she covered it up," Kemp said.
Kemp asked for a 10- to 20-year sentence, a term that would fall outside standard sentencing guidelines for the charges.
The four- to eight-year sentence that Judge Glenn B. Bronson imposed does fall within sentencing guidelines. He said he took into account not only the "terrible offense" committed, but Brown's willingness to testify - a rarity, he said - and considered her learning disabilities.
Brown wrote a short statement that she asked Rudenstein to read to the judge. She said she hated Golphin for taking her daughter away from her, "all because he was a control freak."
"I always cry myself to sleep every night," she wrote. Seanita "was my princess, my pride and joy. It makes me smile when I see her face."
When Rudenstein finished, he turned and whispered to Brown, who sat silently beside him. She nodded, stood up, and addressed the judge in a barely audible murmur.
"I'm sorry for what I did," she said.