Jerice Hunter sentenced in murder of 5-year-old daughter

Nearly four years after 5-year-old Jhessye Shockley was reported missing, her mother learned her punishment for killing her.

Jerice Hunter was sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of parole. Judge Rosa Mroz also sentenced Hunter to 20 years in prison for child abuse, to run consecutive to her life sentence.

Prosecutors entered into evidence that when Hunter was pregnant with Jhessye, she was convicted of corporal injury to a child. She spent four years in a California prison. Hunter gave birth to Jhessye right before she went into prison, when Hunter got out Jhessye was 4-years-old.

It certainly was shocking case from the beginning. The 5-year-old girl disappeared without a trace.

Even though her body has never been found, her own mother was found guilty of her murder.

Jerice Hunter was convicted of her daughter's death and abusing her.

Even though they didn't when or how, prosecutors convinced the jury that Hunter killed Jhessye, put her body in a suitcase and dumped the remains in a garbage bin in Tempe.

A national search had been underway since October of 2011 when Jhessye was reported missing.

Investigators completed a three-month search of the Butterfield Landfill, hoping to find her body.

Nearly a year after Jhessye's disappearance, Hunter was arrested and charged with first degree murder and child abuse in September 2012.

Hunter has maintained her innocence.
She was stoic when the jury read its decision, but her mother did shout out in the courtroom that the jury was wrong and Jhessye was still alive.

Hunter faces up to 35 years in prison.

Hunter's original sentencing date was June 5, but a judge changed it to July 17.

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