A mother diagnosed with Munchausen by proxy syndrome pleaded guilty late Wednesday to manslaughter and aggravated child abuse in the death of her 14-month-old daughter.
Michele Lynn Price, 28, was accused of smothering her daughter, Bonnie Jean Bolden, last March. Price was living with her mother and daughter in a north Tampa apartment when the family called 911 to say that Bonnie was not breathing. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Investigators became suspicious when they learned that the baby had the last name of a woman who accompanied Price to the hospital, and not the last name of Price, the baby's mother. They later determined Price used a different last name because her two older children had been taken away from her by state officials after allegations of child abuse.
One child suffered a broken leg and other injuries. A second had been taken to the hospital several times after Price reported the child was not breathing.
A psychiatrist who once examined Price said she suffered from Munchausen by proxy syndrome, a condition in which a parent deliberately injures or sickens a child to gain attention.
Price was charged with first-degree murder and scheduled for trial Monday, but instead pleaded guilty to manslaughter and aggravated child abuse in exchange for a sentence of 10 years in prison followed by 12 years of probation. While on probation, she is not allowed contact with children and must inform authorities if she becomes pregnant.
"I believe it was the just way to go and the one that involved the least risk for the state and the community," said prosecutor Lyann Goudie.