A woman convicted of killing her pregnant friend and cutting the baby from her womb was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison while the victim's father sat in court holding his daughter's ashes.
Julie Corey, 39, of Worcester, was given the mandatory term of life without parole by a judge.
She was convicted last week in Worcester Superior Court of first-degree murder for killing Darlene Haynes in July 2009, three months after her own miscarriage, and passing Haynes' baby off as her own.
Haynes, who was eight months pregnant, was found dead in her apartment. The 23-year-old had been beaten and strangled with an electrical cord, prosecutors said. Her abdomen had been cut open, and the baby was gone.
Corey and her then-boyfriend were found with the baby two days later at a homeless shelter in New Hampshire. Corey claimed she had delivered the baby girl, who survived. She's now 4 and lives with her biological father.
Haynes' father, Fred Haynes, clutched a container carrying his daughter's ashes in court. He wiped away tears, too weak to stand and too distraught to speak.
"This is the reminder that he has every day of his daughter. It's not replacement for having her, and speaking to her ... it can't replace his daughter," prosecutor Daniel Bennett said, referring to the urn.
Corey's lawyers acknowledged that their client was found with the baby but said she played no role in Haynes' slaying.
They said police failed to follow up on leads that could have implicated other potential suspects in the killing, including Haynes' ex-boyfriend. They suggested that Haynes' ex-boyfriend had given Corey and her boyfriend the baby, but he denied that on the witness stand.
Under state law, the conviction will automatically be appealed.
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