Hyphernkemberly Dorvilier will spend the next 30 years of her life in prison for setting her newborn daughter on fire and leaving her to die in the middle of a street.
Dorvilier, of New Jersey, plead guilty to aggravated manslaughter in February. Prosecutors say the 23-year-old admitted dousing her newborn daughter with lighter fluid and using a lighter to set her on fire in January 2015.
A neighbor rescued the newborn but she died hours later at a Philadelphia hospital from third-degree burns over 60 percent of her body.
The neighbor held Dorvilier on the ground until emergency responders arrived. Someone wrapped the newborn in a towel and paper.
“I was on a downward spiral. I believe I hit my rock bottom,” Dorvilier said in open court Friday.
“I apologize first and foremost for not giving my daughter, Angelica, the life she deserved. She deserved so much better.”
Dorvilier reportedly hid her pregnancy from her mother and sister. The baby's umbilical cord and placenta were still attached when she was found.
Dorvilier’s sister, Dejennie, pleaded with the judge for leniency and mental help for her sister.
But the judge said 30 years was “the sentence that justice requires.”
“The crime in this case was committed against the weakest of the weak, a helpless newborn,” said Judge Terrence Cook, without taking Dorvilier’s mental status into account.
Although the prevalence of mental illness among white inmates is higher than among black inmates, black offenders with mental illnesses are nearly always sentenced to prisons instead of mental hospitals.
“We've, frankly, criminalized the mentally ill, and used local jails as de facto mental health institutions,” said Alameda County health director Alex Briscoe in a 2014 PBS documentary on mental illness behind bars.