ERIE, Pa. – A 20-year-old baby sitter whose half sister and another toddler drowned while the woman slept after a night of partying was sentenced to 11 1/2 to 23 months in jail.
Brittany Steward was sentenced to the Erie County Prison term after pleading guilty Tuesday to two counts of endangering the welfare of children.
Prosecutors dropped involuntary manslaughter and other charges in exchange for her guilty plea. Steward could been sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for each of the manslaughter charges alone.
Steward's 20-month-old half sister, Jenna Walker, and a 2-year-old friend, Maggie Kovski, wandered out of the house and drowned in a pond about 150 yards away on May 30, 2007.
Steward sobbed as Erie County Judge John Garhart told her to "reflect on the lives you snuffed out" and to develop a plan to "redeem yourself in the community."
Public defender Richard Gilmore argued that Steward could not reasonably foresee the children drowning if she fell asleep.
But Erie County prosecutors said Steward was negligent to stay out all night drinking even though she knew she would be watching the children the next day at her home in Waterford Township.
Steward had gone to an all-night bonfire party and had several beers in the hours before she was to baby-sit. Kovski's mother told investigators that Steward was having a hard time staying awake the morning of the deaths.
Around 7 a.m., Steward text-messaged a friend, "OK im finally done drinking and im rocked lol," police said. A few hours later, the children were dead.
Steward will also be on probation for more than three years after she gets out of jail.