Whitman mother accused in death of two-year-old daughter sentenced to at least 3 years in prison

Mass. — A Whitman mother facing charges in connection with the death of her two-year-old daughter in 2019 was sentenced to three to four years in prison after pleading guilty in court Wednesday.

After first entering a not-guilty plea in 2020, Shaniqua Leonard changed her plea to guilty on charges of manslaughter and reckless endangerment in connection with the death of her daughter, Lyric Farrell. The two-year-old toddler was found unresponsive on a couch on December 28, 2019 and died shortly after being placed on life support.

Prosecutors asked for 8 to 10 years in prison followed by 5 years of probation while Leonard’s defense team asked for two years.

Police found the 2-year-old after a 911 call to a home on Washington Street in Whitman. According to the police report, Lyric suffered a brain hemorrhage from a non-accidental traumatic head injury. Investigators also found fresh scratches to her face, neck, torso and back. Leonard told police Lyric hadn’t been eating, and that she had been scratching herself and banging her head.

In a search of Leonard’s phone, police say other videos in the days before Lyric’s death show the toddler unable to hold her own head up, move her legs, or keep her eyes open and focused.

Investigators concluded Lyric was in medical distress and her mother did not get her timely medical attention, which led to her death.

In August 2019, Leonard pleaded not guilty and had her bail set at $25,000 by a judge. After an organization called National Council For Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls posted the bail, Leonard was back behind bars weeks later after allegedly threatening to “slaughter her neighbors” and cutting off her monitoring device.

Leonard has six other children ranging in age from 5 to 15 years old. All of the children are in DCF custody.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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