A 13-year-old girl was sentenced to up to 14 years in prison Friday for smothering two little children in her care.
Victoria Dalton was convicted last week of murdering 2-year-old Renee Gutierrez and her 5-month-old brother, Timothy, in January.
The girl, 12 at the time of the crime, wept upon hearing her punishment. The jury could have sentenced her to 40 years behind bars.
In a statement read aloud by the judge, jurors said the two children died in an “environment wrought with irresponsible actions by many.”
“In the eyes of the jury, Victoria Dalton did commit delinquent acts of conduct,” the statement said. “In our minds we had to deal with the law. In our hearts we were dealing with a 13-year-old child. We all hope and pray Victoria Dalton can build a better life. “
She was sent to a juvenile center; when she turns 18, she will get a hearing to determine whether she has been rehabilitated.
If so, she will be released. If not, she will be sent to adult prison to serve all or part of the rest of the 14-year sentence.
Victoria’s family and that of the murdered children lived together in a small, two-bedroom apartment, with as many as 14 other people at times. She often was left in charge of the younger children.
The girl said she put her hand over the older child’s mouth and nose because the girl was fussy.