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Mother Headed to Prison For Death of 2-Year-Old

September 22, 2012
From Staff Reports , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

ST. CLAIRSVILLE - A Bridgeport mother was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison Friday for the death of her 2-year-old daughter.

Erin Bell, 21, of Bridgeport pleaded guilty Aug. 22 to one count of murder and one count of child endangerment in connection with the death of her daughter, Mylie Marie Bell. Three other charges were dropped.

Judge John Solovan II sentenced Bell Friday to serve her time in the reformatory for women at Marysville, Ohio.

Belmont County Sheriff Fred Thompson previously said a medical examiner believed the child died from blunt force trauma to the head and said the girl had "extensive bruising over a large portion of her body."

In January, authorities were called to Lansing Garden Apartments in Wolfhurst. Bell's daughter was transported to Wheeling Hospital and pronounced dead on arrival. The autopsy showed blunt trauma to the head as the cause of death.

The Belmont County Department of Job and Family Services subsequently removed a 4-year-old sibling of Mylie's from the home.

The trial initially was delayed by a defense request for forensic evaluation of the reports, but a plea agreement was reached prior to the trial.

"In lieu of going to trial she decided to accept responsibility and pled guilty to murder and felony child endangering," Belmont County Prosecutor Chris Berhalter said in August. "At the sentencing hearing we'll be arguing for the maximum sentence that can be imposed, which is life imprisonment."

The prosecution had alleged that Bell abused the child and neglected to seek medical help for her.

"This was one of the most disturbing cases we have had. In this case we had a 2 1/2-year-old innocent child who was murdered. The child suffered from a fractured skull and showed signs of extensive abuse. We were determined to hold the person who did this responsible, and we had planned on proceeding to trial to do just that," Berhalter added, noting that Bell had not provided an explanation at the time of her plea.

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