Homeless mother sentenced to prison in baby's starvation death

Tanya Williams was sentenced to 9-18 years for her son's death.
Tanya Williams was sentenced to 9-18 years for her son's death.
Posted: June 30, 2013

A homeless Philadelphia mother of six was sentenced Friday to nine to 18 years in prison in the starvation death of one of her 2-month-old twin boys in a city-run homeless shelter.

Tanya Williams, 34, wiped her eyes with a tissue moments before Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina pronounced the sentence.

Moments earlier, Williams told the judge she loved her children and asked for leniency.

"I am sorry for what I have done. . . . Just give me a second chance to be with my children," she said.

Williams was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in May in the death of Quasir Alexander at a homeless shelter in West Philadelphia two days before Christmas 2010. The boy's twin, Quamir, nearly died of starvation as well, prosecutors said.

The boys' mother was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child in the near-starvation of Quamir. The twins had been born prematurely said Williams' lawyer, Gregory Pagano.

Assistant District Attorney Peter Lim urged the judge to sentence Williams to 22 to 44 years in prison, the maximum.

"This is the most painful way to die, he said. "This baby could not speak for itself. Yet there is no accountability. No remorse."

Lim said, "Quamir was within hours of starvation when he was found."

He said Williams failed to take advantage of services available for her children, including free food.

Williams lived in a shelter with a cafeteria that provided three free meals a day, Lim said. "Included in that cafeteria was formula. All she had to do was ask. That's the most infuriating part."

Pagano said Williams should have taken her babies to the doctor but had been overwhelmed by dealing with homelessness and the needs of her four other children.

Since Williams' arrest, Lim said, the surviving twin has been adopted and her other children are in group homes.

Contact Vernon Clark at 215-854-5717 or vclark@phillynews.com.

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