Martinez baby sitter convicted of involuntary manslaughter in toddler's death

Judge Michael Annis sentences Lawanda Tripp to 10 years in prison. The jury found her guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Several members of the jury that convicted Lawanda Concettes Tripp cried as they watched her sentenced to prison Friday night.

After four days of testimony and four hours of deliberation, the jury convicted Tripp, 41, of involuntary manslaughter.

“She wouldn’t hurt anyone,” Tripp’s mother, Barbara Green, said at the sentencing after the verdict. “She’s a good person. They are wrong. They are wrong.”

Tripp, of Martinez, was charged with murder in the 2009 death of 22-month-old Teaira Michele Hall, who was in Tripp’s care when she died of head injuries.

Superior Court Judge Michael N. Annis sentenced Tripp to the maximum of 10 years in prison. She will get credit for the nearly three years she already has served in the Columbia County Detention Center since her arrest.

“I am innocent of any wrongdoing,” Tripp said before the sentence was imposed. “I would never hurt a child. I’m sorry Teaira is gone. I live with it every day. I’m sorry to the family of Teaira Hall.”

The trial is the second for Tripp, whose first one last month was declared a mistrial by Annis after jurors announced they were deadlocked.

Authorities were called to Tripp’s Avery Landing home Nov. 15, 2009, responding to a report that the child wasn’t breathing.

There was evidence Teaira had old, healing head injuries. Tripp’s attorney, Victor Hawk, said Teaira’s head-banging during a tantrum led to a seizure, brain swelling and her death.

Two forensic pathologists, one testifying for the state and the other for the defense, agreed a head injury at the time that she collapsed ultimately caused the toddler’s death, however.

Annis said the case was about getting justice for Teaira.

“The jury rendering a verdict brings closure to the victim, and to Teaira … and to the people that loved that child,” Annis said. “The healing can begin.”

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