Local News

Adoptive Mother Given 25 Years For Killing 2-Year-Old Daughter

Posted May 25, 2006 11:04 a.m. EDT

— A Wake Forest woman was sentenced to 25 years in prison Thursday for fatally beating a 2-year-old girl she had adopted from a Siberian orphanage.

Authorities said Peggy Sue Hilt, 34, repeatedly punched and stepped on her daughter, Nina, in July. Nina died from her injuries the next day.

Hilt told investigators that she had become frustrated about her failure to bond with the child. In March, she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder to avoid a first-degree murder charge.

Calling Hilt's actions "inexplicable," Prince William Circuit Court Judge William Hamblen imposed a 25-year sentence, above the sentencing guideline range of 12 to 21 years.

Prosecutor Paul Ebert said the stiff sentence was warranted given the horrific injuries that Nina suffered. Ebert also pointed out that Nina's death caused a backlash in Russia against foreign adoptions, hurting families' efforts to adopt children.

Hilt's lawyer said his client was an alcoholic who suffered from mental health problems that went untreated.