UPDATE: Foster mother sentenced to 20 years
Foster mother Clara Edwards has been sentenced to 20 years, following a mistrial in February.
UPDATE: Foster mother Clara Edwards has been sentenced to 20 years, following a mistrial in February.
A release sent by Catoosa District Attorney Buzz Franklin says Edwards pleaded guilty to Voluntary Manslaughter, a lesser offense than the First Degree Murder charge that caused the mistrial in February.
Edwards was indicted in July of 2014 by the Catoosa County Grand Jury for Malice Murder, Felony Murder and Cruelty to Children in the First Degree in connection with the death of Saharah Weatherspoon, a foster child who had been placed in her and her husband Ron Edwards’ care in early 2013.
On December 29, 2013, Saharah was taken to T.C. Thompson’s Childrens Hospital with a traumatic brain injury. Saharah died shortly thereafter as a result of the inflicted injury.
Today, Edwards has been sentenced to 20 years behind bars.
Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.
PREVIOUS STORY: Foster mother Clara Edwards was found not guilty of malice murder; guilty of cruelty to children and a mistrial was declared on felony murder charge Wednesday when the jury could not reach a verdict.
PREVIOUS STORY: The foster mother of 2-year-old Saharah Weatherspoon is waiting for a jury to reach a verdict.
Clara Edwards is charged with murdering the toddler in December 2013.
READ MORE | Child severely injured while in foster care
By Wednesday afternoon, the jury had been deliberating for more than a day. The foreman told the judge they're split 10-2 on reaching a final verdict.
Edwards was charged with murder nearly five months after the child died in her care.
She told police Saharah had fallen down the stairs inside her Ringgold home. But an autopsy revealed the 2-year-old died of serious brain injuries, that prosecutors say were consistent with a pattern of child abuse.
Edwards' defense attorney argues that the state's case is purely circumstantial. Previous DFCS reports showed Edwards exhibited no signs of abuse.
Saharah's biological mother, Jennifer Palmer, told Channel 3 that she suspected problems inside the foster home.
"I knew something is going on. My heart tells me something is going on there," Palmer said in 2013. "I'm just hoping they're strong enough to tell the truth."
The jury will resume deliberations at 9 a.m. on Thursday.
If convicted of murder, Edwards faces life in prison. If the jury cannot reach a verdict, it will force a retrial.