She fooled witnesses into thinking her daughter wasn't already dead.
A Texas mom who used a life-sized doll to fool witnesses into believing her dead daughter was still alive has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Tiaundra Christon was found guilty of tampering with a human corpse, and on Tuesday was given the maximum sentence — the same as her boyfriend and co-defendant Kenny Hewett got in November 2019 in connection with the death of two-year-old Hazana Anderson.
The child was found at the bottom of Moses Lake on October 31, 2018, wrapped in a plastic bag, tied up with rope and attached to a rock — but no-one has ever been convicted of her murder.
Christon had claimed her daughter had gone missing from her stroller in a park on October 28, prompting a massive search operation; going back through CCTV footage and witness statements, investigators traced the last movements of the mother and child — or what they initially thought was the child.
They became suspicious when they discovered a doll dressed in the same clothes the missing child had been wearing in a nearby dumpster.
Under questioning, Christon eventually confessed that the girl had died days before she reported her missing; according to Galveston County Criminal District Attorney Jack Roady, she had carried the doll around Houston pretending it was her daughter.
The child's tragic last days were eventually pieced together: Christon had traveled with Hazana from College Station to Houston to visit her boyfriend, and that the three had stayed at the Houston Downtowner Inn.
According to court documents, Christon told detectives that Hewett left the hotel with her daughter to go get food; but when they returned 30 minutes later the little girl was crying, and he began hitting her violently with a belt on her arms, legs and face.
She said Hewett asked her to beat the child too and she did, but then said she wasn't hitting her hard enough so resumed beating her himself, to a point that she was drifting in and out of consciousness, Click2Houston reported.
She said they put the child, who still had a pulse, in the bathtub and ran cold water in an attempt to revive her; she said when they took her out of the bath she saw evidence her daughter had been sexually assaulted.
She said they later realized the child was dead and cold to the touch, having tried to heat her up with a hairdryer, but only succeeding in burning her skin.
They then wrapped the body in plastic and put it on the back passengers floorboard of her car, where it stayed for three days, before they eventually drove to the lake where they weighted it and dumped it.
She later led police to the spot, where dive teams recovered the body.
A medical examiner testified that the bruising on Hazana's body would not have been enough to kill her; a cause of death could not be determined, and thus no homicide charges were ever brought.
It took the jury just 20 minutes to decide its verdict last Friday, and 40 more minutes on Tuesday to deliberate on her sentence, where she received the maximum possible.