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Sentencing postponed for foster mother convicted of killing girl

A judge on Monday postponed sentencing a foster mother convicted in the beating death of a 2-year-old girl under her care while her defense attorney considers filing motions with the court.

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.

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge on Monday postponed Barker's sentencing to Jan. 15.

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

Barker told investigators that 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.

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.

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james.barragan@latimes.com

Twitter: @James_Barragan

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