Parents Sentenced in Death of Missing Toddler Who Has Never Been Found: 'You Have a Stain on Your Soul'
Erika Finley, of Flint, and Khairy Simon, of Detroit, were sentenced this week in the killing of their 3-year-old daughter, Kimora Simon
Three-year-old Kimora Monique Simon reportedly hadn’t been seen for months — some said it was even longer — when Michigan child welfare officials came asking about her after her older brother’s teacher voiced concerns that he was being abused.
An employee of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, looking into the signs of suspected child abuse of Kimora’s 5-year-old brother, also raised questions about Kimora that would lead to a much darker truth, according to MLive.com:
Kimora had been killed more than a year earlier at the hands of her parents — mom Erika Finley, of Flint, and dad Khairy Simon, of Detroit — Simon later said in court, local TV station WJRT reports.
After the killing, Finley continued to draw welfare benefits for her daughter, according to authorities.
Simon, 27, reportedly said he and the 29-year-old Finley had been beating the girl as punishment during potty training. At one point, he said, Finley repeatedly struck her daughter with a fist and an extension cord.
“I tried to stop her, but she’s domineering,” he said in court, according WJRT. “She’s much bigger than me. And at that time, she felt like she had to get her point across.”
According to MLive.com, however, authorities believe the slaying was committed in 2015 by both parents. They were initially charged in December 2016.
After Kimora was dead, Simon reportedly said in June, he buried her body along nearby train tracks.
Her remains have never been found — the district attorney has said animals may be to blame — possibly stymieing the homicide prosecutions that instead resulted in pleas for both Finley and Simon.
He pleaded guilty in June to second-degree murder and removing a dead body without the permission of the medical examiner and agreed to testify against Finley.
She pleaded no-contest in August to five charges — including second-degree murder, first-degree child abuse, tampering with evidence and welfare fraud. (A no-contest plea essentially has the same effect as a guilty plea, but the defendant does not admit the accusations against them.)
Finley was sentenced on Wednesday to 15 to 40 years in prison, according to a prosecutor’s spokesman. Simon was sentenced the same day to 12 to 40 years.
Prosecutors declined to comment on the case or to discuss it in detail, beyond the charges and sentences for both defendants.
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In court this week, Finley’s attorney read a letter on her behalf in which she said she was deeply apologetic.
Simon, too, reportedly said he was sorry for the killing: “I want to apologize to everyone that this situation affected. I ask for forgiveness.”
His attorney, Phillip Beauvais, tells PEOPLE he “has shown genuine remorse for his actions and the death of his child. He agreed to testify against Ms. Finley, which resulted in her plea.”
Beauvais says that while the abuse occurred when the parents were potty-training their daughter, Simon said that Finley was the more aggressive of the two. “His testimony was that he only struck her a couple of times and not hard enough to kill her or to seriously injure her,” Beauvais says.
“I think if he [Simon] could go back in time, he certainly would,” Beauvais says. “He would change the result.”
In her letter at her sentencing, Finley suggested that Simon — whom she did not name — was to blame for any abuse and that her failing was being unable to get out of a violent relationship that had terrified and traumatized her.
(Simon’s attorney disputes that he was allegedly abusive. Finley’s attorney did not return a message seeking comment.)
“I cannot tell you how much I miss my daughter,” Finley said, in part, according to video from the hearing. “I cannot tell you how sorry I am to everyone for what has happened during this situation. I was a mother who did everything I could for my children, trying to provide for them and take care of them the best that I can. … I realize I have to be punished and I know that no matter how much time I do it’s not going to bring my daughter back.”
The judge was not swayed.
“Ms. Finley — you have a stain on your soul,” he said, MLive.com reports. “The heinous act that you did causes every mother in this community to wonder why. Every parent in this community is appalled.”
“You tried to shift some of the blame to the other gentleman,” he told Finley. “You could have stopped what happened.”
Of Simon, the judge said, “Your participation in all of this was selfish and cruel and sad. Just sad. This poor defenseless child.”
According to WJRT, Kimora’s two older brothers were placed with a foster family who is working to adopt them.