LaTonya Austin is led out of court after being sentenced for the death of her granddaughter Zaila Lee. (Screenshot from Cincinnati’s FOX19 NOW/YouTube)
A 45-year-old Cincinnati grandmother learned her fate after she admitted to killing her 2-year-old granddaughter and hiding her body in a cooler.
LaTonya Austin was sentenced to between 15 and 20.5 years in prison after pleading guilty on Wednesday to charges of gross abuse of a corpse, involuntary manslaughter, and tampering with evidence in the death of her granddaughter Zaila Lee, Newport, Kentucky, Fox affiliate WXIX-TV reported.
Austin’s nephew, Armoni Robinson, told WXIX she wouldn’t hurt anyone, the network reported.
“She loves kids,” he said. “She has her own kids. She took in her daughter’s kids and prior to that she was taking care of other people’s kids and when I would go over there and had interactions with the kids, it was never an issue, like ever.”
As Law&Crime reported, the girl died from blunt-force trauma to the head after Austin struck her.
Austin then hid Zaila’s body in a cooler, causing additional post-mortem injuries, including a deep laceration and broken arm, prosecutors said.
“It is impossible to comprehend the depravity of an individual able to, not only strike a two-year-old so hard to cause her death, but to then attempt to conceal that crime by stuffing the child’s lifeless body into a cooler,” Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters said in a statement. “As a father and a grandfather, I am sick.”
“I am saying a prayer for this victim’s siblings, and the members of the Cincinnati Police Department who had to process and investigate this horrible scene,” Deters added.
Law&Crime’s Marisa Sarnoff contributed to this report.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]