Judge: Two women get 48 years in prison in 3-year-old's death

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- A Mesa County judge on Thursday sentenced two women in the death of a three-year-old girl.

Judge Brian Flynn sentenced Shanna Gossett, 30, and Rebekah Wallin, 32, to 48 years in prison plus five years of parole after they both plead guilty to the death of Bethannie Johnson.

Gossett agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for dropping charges of first-degree murder, false imprisonment, kidnapping, and child abuse. Wallen's case was similar.

The two appeared in court together with difference attorneys.

In court, Gossett's defense attorneys argued she should receive a lesser sentence than Wallin. The judge denied that request.

Gossett's attorneys said Gossett was of a submissive nature and subject to repeated abuse from Wallin. They also said Gossett suffered abuse herself when she was a child and suffered from post-traumatic stress.

The judge responded by saying that being abused is no reason to abuse someone else.

Police found Bethannie dead at the scene at Gossett's home in the 3000 block of North 14th Street on March 17, 2016.

Wallin and Gossett were in a reported relationship, while Bethannie was in Gossett's care.

An autopsy report showed Bethannie had bruises all over her body, and multiple severe head injuries, according to records. The cause of death was blunt force trauma.

In April of 2016, according to court documents, 29-year-old Shanna Gossett, Bethannie's aunt, and legal guardian, said she beat the child, then hid her in the closet for two weeks and under a bed just days before the toddler died in March.

According to court documents, Wallin made Bethannie run up and down the hallway. Gossett said Bethannie fell and hit her head on the wall. Wallin ran towards Bethannie with a vacuum cleaner, hitting her with it. Gossett said she attempted to help Bethannie, Wallin took her by the feet and threw her, into the wall.

Many of Bethannie's family members spoke out in court, saying she was a joy to be around. They said that no sentence will be able to bring back Bethannie and the future she was meant to have.

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