A woman in Pittsburgh has been sentenced to life in jail for torturing her three-year-old stepdaughter to death.
Bella Seachrist died in June 2020 after she was starved and physically abused by her stepmother Laura Ramirez.
The young girl was found ‘unresponsive’ in the bathtub of a Oakmont, Pennsylvania home and weighed less than 30 pounds when she died.
Ramirez, 31, was found guilty of first-degree murder in July along with other counts including aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of a child, unlawful restraint, and conspiracy to commit homicide.
She was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Wednesday with an additional 37 to 74 years.
Laura Ramirez, from Pittsburgh, has been sentenced to life in jail for torturing her three-year-old stepdaughter to death
Bella Seachrist died in June 2020 after she was starved and physically abused by her stepmother because she was born as a result of her father’s affair
In May, Bella’s father Jose Eduardo Salazar-Ortiz was convicted of third-degree murder, aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of children and conspiracy to commit homicide.
The 32-year-old was sentenced to 33 to 66 years in prison.
Ramirez’s sister Alexis Herrera, 23, has been accused of taking part in the abuse of Bella and is set to stand trial in January.
She had videos and pictures of the severe abuse of Bella on her cell phone.
Bella was discovered ‘unresponsive’ on June 9, 2020 in the bathtub.
‘When officers and paramedics arrived, they found the child appearing to be badly bruised and malnourished,’ a statement from the Allegheny County Police Department read.
‘Officers and medics performed life saving measures and transported the child to an area hospital where the child was pronounced deceased.’
In May, Bella’s father Jose Eduardo Salazar-Ortiz was convicted of third-degree murder, aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of children and conspiracy to commit homicide
Ramirez’s sister Alexis Herrera, 23, has been accused of taking part in the abuse of Bella and is set to stand trial in January
The little girl was being starved by her family members and was so emaciated as a result that you could see her bones through her skin, according to authorities.
Her hair was patchy and falling out too because she was so malnourished.
She died from malnutrition, failure to thrive due to chronic illness and hypoglycemia, plus abuse and neglect.
Investigators said Bella had been beaten, sexually abused, tied up, gagged and shoved in small dark closets.
‘I don’t know that I’ve ever really seen a level of malice not only indeed done here,’ Common Pleas Judge Bruce Beemer said during the sentencing of Ramirez.
‘There was no other possible result, based on what occurred day after day, week after week, month after month, but for her to die in one of the most horrific ways possible.’
‘The pain, the hunger – I cannot envision a worse fate for that child than the one she suffered at your hands in that house in Oakmont,’ he told Ramirez.
Bella’s mother Nicole previously said she sent her daughter to live with her father and Ramirez because she was struggling.
She found it difficult to raise money for diapers so thought it would be better for Bella to live with Salazar-Ortiz and Ramirez.
Nicole believes her daughter was targeted by her stepmother because she was born as a result of an affair.
‘She just did it out of spite because number one, that’s not her baby. And number two, he had an affair,’ she said.
‘I’m disgusted, I’m angry. I will never get to hear my daughter call me mommy. I will never get to see her graduate. I will never get to see her go to college. I will never get to see her get married.’