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Pennsylvania

Philadelphia woman who beat son to death denied shorter prison sentence

| Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, 7:24 p.m.
Jillian Tait
Jillian Tait

HARRISBURG — A woman who beat her 3-year-old son to death with “blunt and sharp objects” in a mobile home in Philadelphia almost four years ago was denied a prison sentence reduction.

A state Superior Court panel ruled Jillian Tait got enough of a break in the sentence imposed under a third-degree murder plea agreement, PennLive.com reported. She was seeking a reduction of 52 years off her 94-year prison sentence for the November 2014 death of her son, Scott McMillan.

Tait, 34, also pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and possessing an instrument of crime in her son’s death. Her ex-boyfriend, Gary Lee Fellenbaum III, was sentenced to life in prison plus 10 to 20 years.

Authorities said spankings of the boy escalated and he was “punched and beaten with blunt and sharp objects, whipped, taped to a chair with electrical tape and beaten, hung up by his feet.” Prosecutors said Tait and the ex-boyfriend went car shopping, bought pizza and engaged in sexual activity as the boy lay dying.

Tait argued her sentence was excessive and she wasn’t credited sufficiently for cooperating with investigators. She cited a rough childhood and mental health problems. She also claimed she wasn’t the main attacker and had been manipulated by her former boyfriend.

Senior Judge William Platt said she hadn’t denied involvement in the beatings, including hitting her son with a wooden spoon, a frying pan and apparently a curtain rod. And rather than doing anything to stop her former boyfriend, “she actively assisted him,” Platt said.

Platt also cited the trial judge’s statements that he couldn’t imagine a scenario “more horrific” that “tugged at the fabric of our entire society,” and said the appeals court agreed.

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