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Man to serve 15 years for killing baby girl

A judge sentenced an admitted baby killer to 15 years in prison today but denied the slayer’s mother a final request: a hug before deputies hauled him back to jail.

Jereme J. Bassett, 24, last month pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 7-month-old Nevaeh Alana Miller, who was the daughter of Bassett’s girlfriend at the time, Jennifer Wilcox. Bassett also pleaded guilty to third-degree assault that stemmed from him choking Wilcox’s 8-year-old son after he learned Nevaeh was brain dead.

Superior Court Judge Annette Plese sentenced Bassett to 15 years in prison, followed a plea agreement between Deputy Prosecutor Kelly Fitzgerald and Assistant Public Defender Kevin Griffin. However, Bassett will get credit for more than two years he has served in jail since he harmed Nevaeh on March 20, 2008, in the room he and Wilcox shared at the West Wynn Motel on Sunset Boulevard.

“You have hurt me so bad,” Nevaeh’s paternal grandfather, Lester Hart, said in court. “The first chance I got to see her, she was already dead. May the rest of your life be filled with pain and misery because Neveah’s life is over.”

The girl’s mother, Jennifer Wilcox, pointed out how Bassett did nothing to help Nevaeh after he assaulted her so severely that the girl was declared brain dead when she arrived at Sacred Heart Medical Center. In fact, Bassett smoked marijuana with a couple friends after beating the girl and it was Wilcox who rushed the girl for medical help hours later when she returned home from work.

Nevaeh died two days later, but not before three other babies received the benefit of her transplanted organs.

“You are not capable of understanding the unconditional love I have for my children,” Wilcox said in court. “I feel in my heart that justice is being done today. I fought the fight that my kids could not.”

Bassett’s mother, Tammy Naugle, asked the judge for two things. She wanted to speak on her son’s behalf, and she requested that she be able to hug her son before he was sent to prison.

“His father abused him. His father abused me,” Naugle said with tears. “I’m sincerely sorry to everyone in her family. My son has been man enough to take responsibility for his actions. I’m losing my child, too.

“I failed you as a mother and never thought to take you away from an abusive father. I just pray that everyone in Neveah’s family can forgive him.”

But Plese denied Naugle’s request for the embrace, pointing out that Wilcox did not have the opportunity to hug Nevaeh goodbye.

Bassett, who was unemployed at the time and has previous convictions for possession of drugs, residential burglary and attempted first-degree theft, struggled to speak. But he asked for forgiveness from Nevaeh’s family.

“I would like to apologize … for the pain and grief I have caused,” he said. “I am truly sorry for what happened.”

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