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A 28-year-old mother will go to jail for life after pleading guilty to joining friends in torturing her toddler son to death because he stole a piece of candy.

With her plea Friday, Tracy Irwin avoided a death penalty trial.

Christopher Gardner died April 1 after a three-hour torture session at a home in Bloomingburg, 84 miles southwest of Albany.

Ms. Irwin admitted joining William Banker, her boyfriend, and Jeanna Lester, who rented rooms to Ms. Irwin, in torturing Christopher. She told the judge she stepped on the boy with her full weight, bit him on the arm and threw his limp body down a flight of stairs. The child died later that evening. Ms. Irwin has another child who is now in foster care.

Ms. Lester pleaded guilty in June to felony assault for her part in the torture of the child. She received a sentence of 3 1/2 to 7 years in prison.

Banker remains charged with first-degree murder and could face the death penalty if convicted.

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