At their sentencing yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court, the parents of a child left untended to die of starvation and dehydration said they'd give anything, even their own lives, to bring her back.
But according to evidence presented yesterday to Judge Arrie W. Davis, all that the parents had to do to save the life of 2-year-old Brandy Simpkins last December was to give her water.
"This case is about responsibility and the lack thereof," Assistant State's Attorney Laura Mullally told Judge Davis.
Yesterday, the judge gave Brandy's father, Allen Simpkins, 24, a 25-year prison sentence for second-degree murder and child abuse. The mother, Grace Geisler, also 24, was given a 20-year prison sentence on the same charges.
Brandy was found dead last Dec. 18 in her crib in the couple's home in the 800 block of Glade Court in Brooklyn. Medical examiners said shehad been dead at least 24 hours. Ms. Mullally said the baby was not fed for perhaps four or five days.
"She was unplanned, and she was unwanted," Ms. Mullally said. "She came into their lives as the sun was setting on their relationship."
Geisler and Simpkins had been together for several years. They had another daughter, 4-year-old Heather, whom they cared for and fed. Judge Davis described the photographs of Brandy at her death as some of the most heartbreaking he had ever seen.
"It was almost as if she was reaching out for help in her death," he said. "In Brandy Simpkins' point of view, it would have been far better for her to suffer one blow and be done with it, than to suffer over four or five days."
Defense attorneys Neil W. Steinhorn and Joseph Fleischmann II argued for leniency. Mr. Steinhorn pointed to Simpkins' history of drug abuse and said he was pained by what happened.
"He still thinks about Brandy regularly, and he cries about her death," said Mr. Steinhorn. "He will live with that for the rest of his life."
Mr. Fleischmann argued that Brandy was sickly and needed more care than her parents could give. Geisler, who cried off and on during the hearing, acknowledged neglecting her child.
But neither parent could give any meaning to what Mr. Fleischmann called "the very sad death of a very beautiful child."