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Woman gets 30 years for toddler’s overdose death (UPDATE)

Amanda Butts, center, listens during a hearing Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014 in Trempealeau County Circuit Court in Whitehall, Wis. Butts been sentenced to 30 years in prison for giving a lethal overdose of a narcotic painkiller to a toddler, 22-month-old Alexis Behlke, in her care and physically abusing her. (AP Photo/The La Crosse Tribune, Chris Hubbuch)

Amanda Butts listens during a hearing Thursday in Trempealeau County Circuit Court in Whitehall. Butts was sentenced to 30 years in prison for giving a lethal overdose of a narcotic painkiller to a toddler. (AP Photo/The La Crosse Tribune, Chris Hubbuch)

WHITEHALL, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin woman has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for giving a lethal overdose of a narcotic painkiller to a toddler in her care and physically abusing her.

“This is unimaginable,” Trempealeau County Judge John Damon said Thursday as he held Amanda Butts, 24, of Osseo, accountable for the death of 22-month-old Alexis Behlke. “Animals know to take care of their young.”

Butts had been watching Alexis while the girl’s father was at work. Butts initially denied giving Alexis anything but children’s Tylenol, after bringing her to the hospital where she was pronounced dead in the early hours of June 22, 2013, the La Crosse Tribune reported.

Butts told police the girl had been whiny and wouldn’t sleep. Butts also told them cuts and bruises on the girl’s face were caused when she tried to remove a peanut butter sandwich from her mouth. Only later did she admit giving Alexis one of her Oxycodone pills, though she denied giving her the Benadryl found in Alexis’ system.

“Ms. Butts had an opportunity to come back from the abyss,” District Attorney Taavi McMahon said. “She failed to do it. She failed to tell anybody she had given Alexis Oxycontin.”

An autopsy also revealed fractures in Alexis’s wrist and blood in her ear canals. Other children in the home told police Butts threw Alexis on the floor and stuffed food into her mouth.

Butts ultimately pleaded guilty to first-degree reckless homicide and no contest to physical abuse of a child. Her attorney told the court she was severely depressed, under the influence of opiates and never should have been left in charge of five children.

“She was not thinking straight at the time. Nobody would give a child Oxycontin if they were thinking straight,” George Miller said. “She was overwhelmed.”

Butts sobbed at points as members of Alexis’ family told the court about the pain they felt over not being able to watch her grow up.

“I know the loss of Alexis has hurt you all,” she said. “I ask that you all find it in your hearts to forgive me as I am trying to forgive myself.”

Information from: La Crosse Tribune, http://www.lacrossetribune.com

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