PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A woman convicted in 2009 of killing her toddler will now serve six to 12 years in prison.
On Jan. 11, 2007, Ronda Watts reported her 2-year-old daughter, Bryonna, missing.
Police searched Watts’ home and discovered the girl in a cardboard box, in a bedroom closet, with a plastic bag over her head. She had been suffocated.
Watts pleaded guilty to the crime. In 2009, Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge David Cashman determined it was first degree murder.
Watts was sentenced to life behind bars without possibility of parole. But today, that changed.
Watts, who claimed that her original attorney had been ineffective, had another chance in Judge Cashman’s courtroom.
Today, she was found guilty of third degree murder rather than first.
“My heart dropped. I was like, ‘whoa.’ I just got real numb because you know; it’s rare to get anything overturned in Pennsylvania,” said Kenny Gales, Watts’ brother. “It’s hard to get something turned in the Commonwealth, so I’m just glad they saw her side and changed everything.”
Watts was sentenced six to 12 years in prison rather than life. She has already served six. Family members hope she will be back home soon.
“She gets to see her nieces and nephews she hasn’t seen yet,” said Shante Gales, Watts’ sister. “She gets to come home to her family.”
The judge focused a lot on Watts’ mental and health states at the time of the crime. She was suffering from psychiatric conditions and postpartum depression related to her then 4-month-old son.
Watts, who was too emotional to talk for herself, had her attorney read a statement in the courtroom.
She thanked the judge for a second chance, and said her actions the day her daughter died were anything but intentional.