Woman pleads guilty in death of 3-year-old niece

Jeraldine Brockington, in her mug shot after her arrest in 2011 for Tylasia's death.

Jeraldine Brockington, 44, pleaded guilty Friday to homicide by child abuse in the 2011 death of 3-year-old Tylasia Grant.

Judge Michael Nettles sentenced her to 23 years in prison.

Brockington had custody of Tylasia, who died of complications from burns on her body and the toxic effect of medications in her system which caused complications of the third degree burns. An autopsy showed the girl had codine and morphine in her system.

In court last week, we learned from Brockington's daughter, Kesia Grant, 23, how the burns happened. Grant admitted to telling her 6-year-old son to boil a cup of water in the microwave, and she poured the scalding water in Tylashia's diaper to teach her a lesson about wetting her pants. Grant was Tylasia's cousin. Grant was sentenced to 27 years in prison.

Tylasia lived with both Grant and Brockington at a home on Badger Lane in Florence County. The child was developmentally delayed and suffered from cerebral palsy.

In court Friday morning, Florence County Sheriff's Investigator Jennifer Floyd told the court Brockington was in the home getting her hair done when the incident happened.

"She sat there and physically did nothing while Kesia poured the hot, boiling water on Tylashia," said Floyd. She said Brockington heard the child screaming.

The women did take Tylasia to the hospital, but only after the child suffered through excruciating pain for more than a week. When Tylasia arrived at the hospital, she had already died.

Before Brockington was sentenced Friday, she said some of the facts of the case weren't true.

"I'm guilty your honor. I'm guilty of neglect. I take that charge fully," said Brockington.

She went on to explain to the judge her side of the story.

"My hair was not being done, Your Honor. I was in my bed asleep. I was asleep. I didn't even know what happened, Your Honor," said Brockington.

Her voice began to quiver when she told to the judge why she didn't get help for the child.

"Yes, I should have seek and got this baby help, because Lord knows she looked to me for that. This time when she needed me the most I failed her."

Brockington said there was no punishment that she could be given that she hasn't already given herself.

"I live every night with these images in my head. If it was something I could close out and get rid of, believe me I would."

Tylashia's preschool teacher asked the judge to remember that an innocent life was taken away.

Officials with the Department of Social Services attended the hearing to speak on behalf of Tylashia.

Brockington apologized to the court and said she accepted her sentence.