A California woman was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder in the death of her 3-year-old daughter after a jury unanimously found that she was guilty under a theory of premeditated murder and felony murder torture.
Prosecutors in Sacramento County said Angela Phakhin came to California in 2016 from Arkansas with her daughter, Maiya, and her fiance, Untwan Smith. Over a two-week period, Phakhin, 29, and Smith, 48, exposed Maiya to extreme summer temperatures by leaving her in a car.
On one occasion, they left the girl in a car for 4½ hours. On another, they left her in a car for 9½ hours, which led to her death, the Sacramento County district attorney’s office said in a release.
Detectives with the Rancho Cordova Police Department’s Child Abuse Bureau arrested Phakhin and Smith in June 2017 after their car was parked the wrong way on Rod Beaudry Drive. Officers approached the pair and conducted a records check, which revealed Smith had an outstanding warrant from Arkansas, police said in a 2017 release.
Officers then searched the car and found Maiya unresponsive underneath blankets in the back seat. The toddler was pronounced dead at the scene.
After her daughter’s death, Phakhin told officials that she and Smith were “trying to remove lustful demons” from the girl, according to court documents.
Phakhin faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison. She is expected to return to court for sentencing on July 19. Smith is awaiting trial on the same charges.