Woman Gets Life for Starving 3-Week-Old Daughter to Death

An Indiana woman was sentenced to life in prison for the starvation death of her three-week-old daughter.

Ruby Stephens, 26, was served a life sentence without the possibility for parole for the Dec. 2014 death of her three-week-old daughter, Betsey Kee Stephens, the Lakeland Ledger reports. Stephens had pleaded guilty to the charge of first-degree-murder.

Police say that Stephens and her husband, 51-year-old Roy Stephens, as well as their three children were traveling from their home in Indiana to Florida on December 23, 2014 to visit family for the holidays. After checking into their hotel, the family went to a nearby Golden Corral to eat, the Orlando Sentinel reports. It was there that Stephens noticed that the infant was unresponsive. She called 911 and the baby was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Betsey Kee Stephens weighed only four pounds at the time of her death, two pounds lighter than when she was born, and an autopsy revealed that her stomach and intestines were empty, indicating that she had not been fed for at least six hours prior to her death.

According to prosecutors, the infant had been conceived during an extramarital affair, which caused a strain on the couple's relationship and led to the neglect of the baby by both parents.

While Stephens initially told authorities that she breastfed the infant every three hours, she later revealed that she only pretended to breastfeed her daughter during their trip to Florida.

In December, Roy Stephens was convicted of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, and aggravated manslaughter of a child. He was sentenced to life in prison and 30 years each for the other two charges.

"[Ruby Stephens] made it clear that her husband, Roy Allen Stephens, had no role in the homicide, and that she kept all the information of her actions from him," Roy Stephens' lawyer, David Carmichael said, according to court. "Additionally, she gave her motive for the crime being that the baby was from an extramarital affair, and indicated that [Roy Stephens] wanted to keep the child despite its origins."

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Stephens has appealed his conviction and his appeal is currently in pending.

The couple's two other children were in the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families at the time of the Stephens' arrests, but it is unclear where they currently are.