Calling it one of the saddest cases he's seen, a Dakota County judge sentenced a Burnsville woman Friday to four years and two months in prison for her role in her 4-year-old son's death.
Sha'reese Monique Miller, 25, pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter in March in connection with Key'ontay Miller Peterson's 2013 death from complications of blunt-force trauma. Her ex-boyfriend, William Alphonso Warr, 26, pleaded guilty this month to second-degree murder for killing the boy and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
"You had the ability, you absolutely had the responsibility and more importantly you had numerous opportunities to prevent this harm to your child," Dakota County Judge David Knutson told Miller.
Miller allowed Warr to be around her children despite a 2012 protection order filed after he threatened to kill Miller and her children, Assistant County Attorney Stacy St. George said. Key'ontay also told family and day care workers that Warr abused him.
The boy was part of a Star Tribune report on child protective services last year.
"He did all he could, all a 4-year-old possibly could, to get his mother's attention," St. George said.
Six family members sat behind Miller in court. Her mother is now raising Miller's two other children, St. George said.
Miller's attorney, DeAundres Wilson, asked for probation or a lesser prison sentence. But Knutson said he was troubled by Miller's "outright lies" to medical professionals and failure to cooperate with family and child protection.
Wilson said that was consistent with the behavior of a battered woman. Throughout the couple's 18-month relationship, he said, Warr controlled Miller's finances and access to vehicles and phones. Wilson said Warr pulled guns on Miller and choked and kicked her.
Before hearing her sentence, Miller told Knutson she wasn't the same person she was two years ago. She said felt guilty Key'ontay is no longer here.
"I shouldn't be living right now," she said, fighting tears. "I feel like my son should be here instead of me."