BILLINGS – Amanda Rose Steffen requested a partially suspended sentence at her hearing Wednesday.
Steffen appeared from the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs, where she was being held until sentencing.
"I feel bad about what I did," Steffen told Yellowstone County District Judge Mary Jane Knisely during the video conference.
The 24-year-old mother was found guilty but suffering from mental illness, and sentenced to 40 years in the state hospital.
She apparently killed the abused baby in June 2012 in a Billings apartment she shared with her 32-year-old husband, Jeffery James Fox.
Steffen was sentenced on three felonies, including negligent homicide, aggravated assault and assault on a minor.
Steffen was arrested after she walked into a Sonoma County Sheriff’s office in California in April 2014 and confessed.
"I feel like it was hard for me to turn myself in, but I didn't want to have all that weighing on me,” she told the judge Wednesday. “I just want to get help for everything. I was just hoping for some suspended time."
After serving a quarter of her sentence, Steffen will be eligible for parole. She may also be transferred out of the Montana State Hospital at the discretion of the director.
"I recognize the fact that you turned yourself in and that is part of how this case was solved," Knisely said. "And that is admirable under the circumstances. But I am not comfortable suspending portions of your sentence."
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The "torture" Steffen's 3-month-old child, Rosanna Fox, underwent was baffling, the judge said. Montana State Hospital psychologist Dr. Virginia Hill's diagnosis and mental health evaluation better explained how someone could inflict such "trauma" on a child, the judge said.
Hill said Steffen has several mental illnesses that affected her judgment at the time of her daughter's death. The major diagnosis is schizoaffective disorder, a mental health condition including schizophrenia and mood disorder symptoms. Hill said Steffen's addiction problems also played a role.
Billings Police Captain of Investigations Jeremy House said Steffen went to the Sonoma County Sheriff's office and confessed to abusing her 3-month-old daughter to death.
Steffen told investigators she would slap the baby if it screamed or cried. She would scare the baby awake and hold the baby's tongue down, making it impossible to scream, cry or breathe. The baby spent most of its life in a car seat, House said.
Steffen said she put the baby, who was in her car seat, into the closet at about 4 p.m. June 4, 2012, before passing out from smoking marijuana. When she went to check on the baby an hour later, she was dead.
The medical examiner could not determine a specific cause of death but did find a healing skull fracture, other injuries and signs of dehydration, according to charging documents.
Fox admitted his role in the abuse last August, and said the abuse began about two weeks after the baby was born. He pleaded guilty to negligent homicide. The plea agreement calls for a 20-year sentence to the Montana State Prison. Fox is still awaiting sentencing.
Deputy County Attorney Julie Patten said the baby suffered her entire life, which was ended far too soon.
"Forty years gets Roseana Fox the justice she deserves," Patten said.