Candace Cartagena has been sentenced of 25-years to life for the death of her 8-year-old daughter. Cartagena appeared before Erie County Court Judge Thomas Francyzk Tuesday afternoon, where the sentencing was handed down.
35-year-old Cartagena received the maximum sentence in the death of her daughter Bianca in November of 2010 in Clarence. Cartagena was convicted in a non-jury trail in July. The judge found her guilty of intentionally suffocating her daughter.
A tearful and sobbing Cartagena delivered a statement to the courtroom during the sentencing. She told the courtroom being a mother was the best part of her life.
"I miss her so much," stated Cartagena. At one point, she noted she wished she could go back and not miss her daughter's start of the third grade and a birthday brunch. "I wish I could back and erase everything so that I never miss any family time, because I would have never have lie to them," said Cartagena. "I'm sorry. I do expect responsibility fully for the things that I did do."
Cartagena continued in a rambling and wandering statement, she blamed everyone else for the mistakes she made, most of which she didn't specify.
Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita said it's a tough but deserved sentence and attacked her statement.
"It's a justice sentence," said Sedita.
Reporters asked Sedita about Cartagena's long, rambling court statement. "She's a pathological liar. She'll say anything to save herself." She's one screwed up human being. I think anybody who suffocates a child, especially their own child, is a breed of criminal that, thankfully, we rarely see in this county, in this state or in this country."
Defense lawyer Joseph Terranova said the appeal of the non-jury conviction will be filed Wednesday. "We don't waste any time getting that process going," said Terranova. "This may not be the last word on this case."
In speaking with reporters following the sentencing, Terranova said not having her testifying was at his suggestion since she would clearly have been a train wreck at trial as she was in court for the sentencing.
Sedita said that's part of the process, but noted it's a strong case and his prosecutors did a good job presenting it.
For the families, Cartagena's sister Casie Croff spoke, opening her statement with one of the most often-read sections of the Bible, the third chapter of Ecclesiastes with its talk of a time to be born and a time to die and a time of love and a time of hate. Croff said the family has argued over what to tell the judge.