WARREN - A 30-year-old Warren woman declined to say anything Wednesday before a judge sentenced her to life in prison for the murder of her 15-month-old daughter in the fall of 2011.
Instead, Joy Hodge cried while standing in front of Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge W. Wyatt McKay, who presided over a jury trial in Hodge's case last December. Hodge is eligible for parole after serving 15 years.
Hodge was particularly emotional while listening to the baby's father, David Brantley, say that he wasn't mad at her.
''I still love you. But we don't have our daughter here anymore,'' Brantley said, adding later that he didn't have much time to spend with A'nana Brantley, who died of blunt force trauma to the head, face and neck. The child also suffered a lacerated liver.
Brantley wore a T-shirt with his daughter's photo on the front. ''I miss her smile,'' he told reporters.
It took a jury about 90 minutes to convict the Transylvania Avenue S.E. woman, who has remained in Trumbull County Jail since the verdict was read.
Jurors also found Hodge guilty of a specification on the child endangering charge that Hodge's conduct resulted in severe physical harm to her daughter. That specification made the charge a felony.
At sentencing, McKay merged all the counts of murder, endangering children and felonious assault.
Someone in the audience yelled out, ''I love you Joy,'' as she was led out of the courtroom.
Hodge has three other children.
During the investigation, Hodge told several different stories and detectives had a hard time putting together what went on, according to the lead investigator on the case, Detective Wayne Mackey. He credited colleagues in the detective bureau with helping him to piece together the case.
According to testimony, Hodge left the child alone to go with friends to a local bar for a night of karaoke. She said she came home sometime between 12:30 a.m. and 3 a.m. the day before Labor Day.
She claimed she gave A'nana a sippy cup at 8:30 a.m. that day and found the child dead five hours later. She also made up a story initially that someone had watched the child.
Assistant county prosecutor Diane Barber brought out the fact that the night she was at the bar, Hodge called Brantley and said their child became ill. She said she may have to take the child to the hospital.
Brantley never heard back from Hodge, who eventually called police. Hodge was arrested about a week after the death was discovered.