Mother sentenced for daughter's death

March 3, 2009 4:16:04 PM PST
A woman whose drug fueled relationship with a man, which led to her daughter's death is headed to jail.

Ebony Dorsey was strangled to death in December of 2007. Mark O'Donnell, her mother's former boyfriend, confessed to killing the Wissahickon High School honor student while high on cocaine.

The 14-year-old girl had been babysitting O'Donnell's daughter at the time of the attack. O'Donnell was found guilty of Ebony's murder and was sentenced to life in prison in January.

Danielle Cattie could have been sentenced to more time then she received. But citing a need to balance her remaining children's needs and grief and justice for Ebony, the judge ordered her to spend no less than 3 months and no more than 23 months in jail.

Danielle Cattie left the courtroom with tears in her eyes moments after being sentenced to jail time for endangering the welfare of her 14-year-old daughter, Ebony, who was killed by Cattie's former boyfriend after the couple smoked crack for hours in December 2007.

At Tuesday's sentencing hearing the judge acknowledged that Cattie has been doing better caring for her other children, working and going to school. But he said what happened to Ebony was deplorable and horrific and required justice when handing down the 3 to 23 month sentence for Cattie he said no penalty he could impose would be greater than what this mother must suffer knowing her responsibility in her daughter's death.

While she was too upset to talk a friend, Ebony's step-grandmother and the lawyers shared their reaction.

"She even acknowledged in the pre-sentence investigation report that she would understand if the judge put her in jail. In fact she herself thought that would be an appropriate punishment. I think that she'll be dealing with this the rest of her life," said her defense lawyer Stephen Heckman.

"It's true she had to deal with this the rest of her life, that her bad choices and decisions how she put her daughter in direct harm, I think she learned a lesson," said Aisha Holcomb, Ebony's step-grandmother.

"My hope for the sentence was no jail time and I'm going to say that for the fact that there's still 3 innocent victims out there, her children that are still here," said Meggin Burns, a friend of Cattie's.

"She violated every kind of responsibility she had for those children and I think the message needs to be sent that we are going to hold you accountable. You do not do what you are supposed to do for those children you brought into the world," said prosecutor Samantha Cauffman.

Danielle Cattie has a week to report to jail. The other 3 children will live with their grandmother in Philadelphia and then return to their mother when she's released from jail.

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