If there is one thing everyone in court could agree on Tuesday, it was that Ver’Naylah Laventure died far too soon.
She was only five months old when her mother, Denay Foster, brought her lifeless body to the hospital last September and soon found herself facing murder charges.
Foster, 23, of 14th Street, was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison.
“You never called for help,” said Erie County Court Judge Sheila A. DiTullio. “You never called 911. You allowed your baby daughter to suffer for hours.”
Originally charged with murder and first-degree manslaughter, Foster pleaded guilty in May to the lesser manslaughter charge. Authorities said the infant died of blunt force trauma. “I don’t know if there are any more difficult cases as a prosecutor," said Colleen Curtin Gable, head of the district attorney’s homicide bureau.
Foster’s lawyers, in seeking leniency, argued that her difficult upbringing – she was a runaway and high school drop out – made her a terrible candidate for motherhood.
They also said Foster lives with the knowledge that she killed her daughter and left her other child, a 3-year-old son, without a mother to help raise him.
“Much like a fuse box, she was wasn’t able to handle the intensity of being a mother," said defense lawyer Sam Davis.
Acting District Attorney Michael Flaherty, who praised Buffalo homicide detectives James Kaska and Patricia Wrest for their work on the case, was asked if Foster’s upbringing was a mitigating factor in the case.
“We’re talking about a 5-month old innocent baby girl,” he said. “I don’t know how you can justify that.”