After hearing more than nine hours of testimony, Judge William R. Carpenter said Cherie Amoore knew the difference between right and wrong and had, at least to some extent, premeditated the child's abduction. To make matters worse, Amoore's actions affected multiple victims, including a defenseless baby boy, Carpenter said, and the boy's mother, Malika Lewis-Hunter, who cried in the front row of the Norristown courtroom.
"Imagine the terror, the living nightmare she experienced during those hours," Carpenter said before he handed down the sentence.
The judge's decision came after extensive questioning of several doctors by both the prosecution and defense regarding Amoore's mental health and whether she had actually believed she was pregnant in the months before the kidnapping.
Amoore was found guilty in March of kidnapping and concealing the whereabouts of a child after a brief bench trial, in which neither the prosecution nor the defense presented arguments.
A shackled Amoore declined comment Monday as she was escorted from the courtroom. Her mother, Renee Amoore, deputy chairman of the State Republican Committee, also did not want to speak. She had faced a maximum of 13½ to 27 years in prison.
"I think it was an appropriate sentence," said Amoore's lawyer, Marc Steinberg. But he added: "I'm never happy when I see a client go to jail."
Steinberg had asked the judge to consider a sentence of house arrest so Amoore could receive more mental-health treatment than she would have access to in prison.
But Assistant District Attorney Brianna Ringwood said that would not be suitable.
"Cherie Amoore is a con artist," Ringwood said. "She lied to, manipulated, and deceived people that she cared about."
Before her sentencing, Amoore tearfully addressed the court, acknowledging how many people she had hurt, including her own family and friends.
"I hope that I deeply express my remorse for the magnitude of my actions," Amoore said. "I can't imagine what it is Miss Hunter endures day in and day out. … I do hope, if not now but one day, Miss Hunter will be able to forgive me."
Two doctors said they believed Amoore experienced a dissociative episode on March 31, 2016, when she snatched Lewis-Hunter's 7-week-old son from a mall food court.
Gerald Cooke said he diagnosed Amoore, 33, of Wayne, with borderline personality disorder, de-personalization disorder, and major depressive disorder after two psychological evaluations.
"There is a very blurry line for her between reality and fantasy" Cooke said. "She is confused and confusing."
When Amoore walked out of the mall with the baby, Cooke said, she did not realize that what she was doing was wrong.
When Amoore held the baby, "she believed that was her baby," even referring to him by a name she had chosen for her own child, Cooke said.
Amoore's adult struggles stemmed in part from anger she had harbored toward her mother as a child, said Carla Rodgers, who also evaluated Amoore.
"She could never match her mother's accomplishments," Rodgers said. "She felt her life paled in comparison."
Cherie Amoore also believed that her mother pushed her to get an abortion in 2008, when Cherie became pregnant by her then-boyfriend, Rodgers said.
Rodgers said she believed Amoore truly believed she was pregnant in the months leading up to the kidnapping, during which Amoore told conflicting stories to various people — including the boyfriend and close family — about miscarriages and stillborn births, either in a hospital or in a bathtub at her home. Amoore had previously had a baby shower that about 100 people attended.
John Sebastian O'Brien II, the only doctor called by the prosecution, said he believed Amoore faked her pregnancy in order to get attention. If Amoore had authentic mental-health issues, they occurred only as she came to terms with her possible punishment in this case, he added.
Dressed in black with her hair pulled into a tight bun, Amoore sat quietly in the Norristown courtroom most of the day.
She became emotional several times, wiping away tears as Lewis-Hunter described what she went through on the evening of the kidnapping.
"I was scared. I didn't know what to do," Lewis-Hunter said, crying. "It was like everything around me was going so fast. I didn't know where to go, who to go to."
The 27-year-old from Philadelphia said she had gone to the mall that day for a family outing with her two children, who were 7 weeks old and 2 years old at the time, and three cousins. It was Lewis-Hunter's first trip to the vast King of Prussia Mall.
When Amoore first approached Lewis-Hunter's family, she was "real nice, pleasant, respectful," Lewis-Hunter said.
Amoore told Lewis-Hunter that she had just moved to the Philadelphia area from Virginia. Amoore said her husband was in the military. And Amoore said she, too, had a newborn baby, even talking with Lewis-Hunter about postpartum depression, said Lewis-Hunter, who later found out none of those statements was true.
After Amoore followed Lewis-Hunter and her family into the main food court in the Plaza section of the mall, Amoore fled with the newborn baby when Lewis-Hunter turned away to care for another child.
The kidnapping resulted in an extensive search, with police stopping and searching every vehicle, including SEPTA buses, that left the mall that evening. An Amber Alert was issued later that night.
"I'm not comfortable with them being with anyone else," Lewis-Hunter said. "Every day is a struggle."