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Mother Sentenced To 18 Years In Death of Baby Found Burned In Desert

September 12, 1996

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ The mother of a toddler whose burned body was found the Arizona desert was sentenced to 18 years in prison today for her role concealing her death.

Lillian Meegan was taken away in handcuffs after Judge Sally Loehrer rejected a call for probation so that Meegan could care for her other five children.

Mrs. Meegan’s husband, James, faces a possible death sentence in the death of 10-month-old Francine Meegan, whose body was found by cowboys near Prescott in 1990 but never identified until earlier this year.

``Ultimately, you and James will be the only ones who really know what happened to Francine on that fateful night,″ Loehrer said in imposing the sentence.

Mrs. Meegan had pleaded guilty to child abuse and faced a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors had originally agreed not to oppose probation if she testified truthfully at her husband’s murder trial, but she ended up being uncooperative on the witness stand. Her husband was nonetheless convicted last month of first-degree murder. A hearing on the penalty is set to begin Monday.

``She has an undying devotion to her husband,″ defense attorney Paul Wommer said. He had asked for probation so that Mrs. Meegan could care for the couple’s five surviving children.

Testimony in his trial showed that the toddler was shaken to death in 1990 and then taken to the desert and burned. The body was discovered a week later, but it was not until recently, after police received a tip, that it was identified as Francine.

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