Shawna Gatto, who was convicted of killing her boyfriend's granddaughter, was sentenced today to 50 years in prison.

Judge William Stokes said, in court today, that it's hard to impose a sentence on anyone, especially a woman like Gatto, who raised her own children and then took on the responsibility of caring for others. WGME-TV reports he added that a life sentence didn't seem appropriate in this case, as he doesn't view her as a monster. His feeling is that she started out with good intentions, taking care of three young kids, and then got overwhelmed.

Kendall Chick, 4, had been placed in the care of her grandfather and his girlfriend, Shawna Gatto. When Chick died in 2017, the State Medical Examiner determined the cause of death as internal bleeding, caused by either being squeezed or by having a knee forced into her stomach. Gatto was charged with depraved indifference murder in December of 2017 and found guilty in May, 2019.

This case is one of two that has Mainers questioning the state's child care system. Julio and Sharon Carillo are awaiting their day in court, charged with murder for the death of Sharon's 10-year-old daughter, Marissa Kennedy. In that case, the medical examiner said that the child had endured months of torture, allegedly at the hands of her mother and step-father.

An independent report by a government oversight committee studied the cases of Kendall Chick and Marissa Kennedy. The report talks about poor job performance and a lack of supervision in the state's welfare department and says mistakes were made.


More From WQCB Brewer Maine