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Woman Gets 20 Years for Killing

September 10, 1999

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ A woman was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison for beating to death her 6-year-old niece for getting off at the wrong school bus stop.

Pamela Smith pleaded guilty to homicide by child abuse in the October 1998 death of Charnell Smith.

Charnell and her two young sisters were placed in the home of their aunt after the state removed them from their mother’s home. Charnell’s two older sisters already were living with Smith and Smiths three sons.

Prosecutors said Charnell intentionally got off the bus at the wrong stop because of the way she was treated at Smith’s home.

As punishment, Smith beat Charnell with an electrical cord, then ordered her to strip. When she didn’t respond, Smith told her 13- and 11-year-old sons to strip the girl, and the boys joined in the beating.

Smith then told the boys to ``crack″ Charnell’s neck, which knocked her unconscious. She died the next day.

In court, Smith said she simply spanked Charnell and would not have allowed her sons to beat the girl. But she accepted responsibility for the death.

The 13-year-old boy pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting child abuse and was sentenced in February to juvenile custody. No trial date has been set for the 11-year-old boy.

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