Mesa woman sentenced to 12 years in prison for niece's death

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Latisha L. Breckenridge By Mike Gertzman Latisha L. Breckenridge By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- A Mesa woman has been sentenced to 12 years in prison in the 2008 death of her 3-year-old niece.

Latisha L. Breckenridge pleaded guilty to manslaughter in August and was sentenced Tuesday morning.

Mesa police arrested Breckenridge in April 2008 on suspicion of second-degree murder and child abuse in the death of Juliana Ruiz.

Police said Breckenridge originally told investigators the girl fell off a recliner and stopped breathing on March 19, 2008.

Juliana was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

An autopsy showed the child's death wasn't caused by the fall described by Breckenridge.

Police interviewed Breckenridge again and said she admitted to getting angry with the girl and grabbing, pushing and tossing her.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.