UNITED STATES NEWS

Woman who killed 3-year-old daughter and left her on ballfield is sentenced to 30 years

Sep 14, 2023, 9:34 AM | Updated: 12:26 pm

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A Delaware woman who pleaded guilty to killing her 3-year-old daughter and leaving her burned remains on a softball field was sentenced Thursday to 30 years in prison.

Kristie Haas, 31, pleaded guilty earlier this year to murder by abuse or neglect and abuse of a corpse in the death of Emma Grace Cole, who prosecutors say endured a life of starvation and torture.

“I’m sorry for all the hurt that I inflicted and the pain that I caused,” said Haas, who also pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child for her mistreatment of Emma’s half-siblings.

Haas faced a minimum mandatory prison term of 15 years, and a possible life sentence, but Superior Court Judge Noel Primos imposed the 30-year sentence that was recommended by prosecutors and defense attorneys.

“I cannot presume to comprehend the grief and the anguish that Emma’s family members here today have been put through because of Ms. Haas’ actions,” Primos said. The judge agreed with prosecutors that Haas deserved more than the minimum sentence because of the “excessive cruelty” of her crime.

“I knew everything was wrong, and I was so messed up because of everything I did,” Haas told the judge, recalling the day she left her daughter’s body on a softball field in Smyrna. “I thought I could get away with it, to be honest.”

“I wasn’t OK then,” Haas added, recalling her drug abuse, mental health issues and relationship with Emma’s stepfather, Brandon Haas. “… I’m trying my best to be better than I was.”

Brandon Haas, 41, was sentenced later Thursday to four years and one month in prison. He pleaded guilty earlier to one felony count and three misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

Haas tearfully apologized for not going to authorities when, according to the defense, Kristie Haas told him on July 27, 2019, that “something was wrong” with Emma.

“I do not know what happened between Kristie and Emma,” he said, adding that Kristie implied that it would be easy for people to blame him, as a stepfather.

“I was told repeatedly that they were not my children,” he said.

Emma’s body was found in September 2019 by a person walking a dog through a softball park near Smyrna Middle School in central Delaware. At the time, Emma lived with her parents and siblings near the field.

Kristie and Brandon Haas were arrested in Pennsylvania in October 2020. Authorities say the couple withheld food and medical care from Emma while also subjecting her and her siblings to excessive forced exercise and inappropriate physical discipline.

Prosecutor Kevin Smith said that after finding Emma unresponsive. Kristie Hass tried to revive her with a cold shower and stopped Brandon Haas from calling 911. Haas later threw away her daughter’s clothing, stating, “That’s it for Emma. Emma’s not coming back,” Smith said.

Haas also lied to family members about Emma’s absence after the killing, telling them the toddler, who Haas said “had the devil in her eyes” was in a facility for children with mental illness.

Before sentencing Haas, the judge heard from Emma’s father, Joshua Douthitt, her great-aunt and former guardian, Tanya Conley, and Haas’ mother, Belinda Johnson.

“I will never comprehend why Emma Grace had to lose her life,” Douthitt said tearfully. “I don’t know what this beautiful little baby could have done to deserve this.”

Smith read a letter submitted by Conley, who described Emma as a happy, healthy child who loved Paw Patrol, swimming, playing with cats, and being sung to at bedtime.

Now, Conley wrote, she sings “You Are My Sunshine” at Emma’s gravesite, rather than her bedside.

In her testimony, Johnson only referred to Haas as the surviving children’s mother. She urged Primos to reject a prosecution request that Haas not be allowed any contact with the children during her time in prison.

Primos agreed that the prosecution’s request was inappropriate, noting that all three surviving children will be adults in less than 10 years. He ordered that Haas not have any contact with them while they are still minors unless authorized by an Indiana court with jurisdiction over their custody.

Defense attorney Patrick Collins said that while it is easy to paint Haas as a “monster,” her own life has been “a nonstop disaster since childhood.” Collins said Haas was abused and abandoned as a child, subjected to extreme poverty, abused by intimate partners, and suffered from mental illness. The “true monster” he suggested, was drug addiction, adding that she and Brandon Haas were addicted to methamphetamine.

“Kristie wanted to be a mother, but she wasn’t honest with herself that she was very ill equipped to be a mother,” Collins said.

United States News

A San Francisco Police Department officer walks around Union Square, Friday, March 1, 2024, in San ...

Associated Press

San Francisco votes on measures to compel drug treatment and give police surveillance cameras

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Voters in San Francisco will weigh in on a pair of public safety measures on Tuesday’s ballot that reflect frustration over crime and drug use in the politically liberal city, including a proposal to compel treatment for adults using illegal drugs who receive cash welfare benefits. The other ballot measure would […]

2 hours ago

FILE - Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón speaks during a news conference Feb. 22,...

Associated Press

LA County’s progressive district attorney faces crowded field of 11 challengers in reelection bid

LOS ANGELES (AP) — One of the country’s most progressive prosecutors, who faced two recall attempts within four years, is set to be tested as he seeks reelection against 11 challengers to remain the district attorney of Los Angeles County. Tuesday’s nonpartisan primary pits incumbent George Gascón against opponents who range from line prosecutors in […]

2 hours ago

FILE - President Donald Trump, left, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., greet each ...

Associated Press

McConnell weighs endorsing Trump. It’s a stark turnaround after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate leader Mitch McConnell is the highest-ranking Republican in Congress who has yet to endorse Donald Trump’s bid to return to the White House — having once called the defeated president “morally responsible” for the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol attack. But that’s potentially about to change. McConnell’s political team and Trump’s campaign […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Industrial fire and multiple explosions shoot debris into the air in Detroit suburb

CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A fire raging at an industrial facility caused multiple explosions that rocked suburban Detroit on Monday night and sent debris shooting far into the air, prompting police to implore residents to stay inside. The debris fell as far as a mile (1.6 kilometers) away, the Clinton Township Police Department said […]

3 hours ago

FILE - Former baseball player Steve Garvey speaks during a televised debate for candidates in the s...

Associated Press

California Senate race: Democrats aim to block Republican from contest to fill Feinstein’s seat

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Several prominent House Democrats are jostling to fend off Republican former baseball great Steve Garvey in the yearlong battle to fill the U.S. Senate seat once held by the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein, with two slots on California’s November ballot at stake. In a state where a Republican hasn’t won a […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Coast-to-coast Super Tuesday contests poised to move Biden and Trump closer to November rematch

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are poised to move much closer to winning their party’s nominations during the biggest day of the primary campaign on Tuesday, setting up a historic rematch that many voters would rather not endure. Super Tuesday elections are being held in 16 states and one […]

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Woman who killed 3-year-old daughter and left her on ballfield is sentenced to 30 years