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Foster mother who beat 2-year-old girl to death to be sentenced

A foster mother convicted of second-degree murder in the beating death of a 2-year-old girl she had been trying to adopt is scheduled to be sentenced in court Monday.

Kiana Barker, 33, faces 25 years to life in prison for the 2010 death of Viola Vanclief, a toddler in her care. A jury in October also convicted Barker of assault on a child causing death and child abuse.

The case was the latest in a long series of troubles for United Care, a nonprofit foster agency that contracted with the county at the time and had placed Viola with Barker. After the girl’s death, the county terminated the contract.

Prosecutors said Barker severely beat "Vicki" with a belt on March 3, 2010 -- about a day before Barker called 911, saying the girl had stopped breathing. Though doctors at a hospital attempted to revive her, a prosecutor said in her closing statement the child was "dead on arrival."

Barker told investigators Viola had gotten stuck in a bed frame and that she might have accidentally hit the girl with a hammer as she tried to free her, authorities said.

Barker's attorney, Robert Haberer, said it was Barker's then-boyfriend, James Julian, who beat the girl. Julian pleaded no contest to an accessory charge in 2011 and was sentenced to three years in jail for his role.

He and Barker married less than a month after Viola's death.


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