I-Team: Grandmother sentenced to probation for failing to protect granddaughter from abuse

I-Team Special Reports

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A grandmother begins her probation Wednesday for failing to protect her granddaughter from abuse. The child died.

The I-Team has been following the story of baby Abygaile closely, and this may be the final chapter in court for the grandma.

We want to warn you the content in this story is disturbing.

Sherry Morse failed to protect her granddaughter Abygaile.

The three-year-old child was beaten so badly her heart exploded, and in the days before she died, she suffered a broken back and broken ribs.

Police and prosecutors say they found photos of bruising on Morse’s phone. They also say text messages prove she did not take action while the abuse happened in her Henderson home at the hands of her son and Abygaile’s father, Justin Bennett.

The grandmother had the chance to apologize in court Tuesday, but this is what she said:

“This has been a very, very difficult situation in my life that I never expected to ever have to go through this.  Ever. Losing a grandchild is very tragic,” Sherry Morse said.

Bennett is serving a 50 to life prison sentence for Abygaile’s murder. She and her two sisters spent time with Bennett while their mother was serving in the military.

Bernadine Morimoto, Abygaile’s maternal grandmother, did try to protect the girls by contacting police and an agency hired by Child Protection Services.  Her family was awarded a $100,000 settlement with Clark County because of how the system also failed Abygaile.

She gave a victim impact statement at Morse’s sentencing, while Morse appeared virtually.

“You may have not done the act of killing her but you had a part of that outcome,” Morimoto said. “For four years, I’ve had these haunting questions: the where’s and the whys. Why didn’t you do anything? Why?”

Through a plea deal, Morse avoids prison time and gets probation for not reporting the child abuse. Judge Joe Hardy said she is also allowed to spend time with Abygaile’s sisters if their mother is present.

Morimoto says the children were left to cope with the trauma and abuse they experienced.

“For months, they were screaming, nightmares,” Morimoto said. 

The I-Team asked the chief deputy district attorney why the district attorney’s office agreed to the plea deal. He pointed to Morse being 51 years old with no felonies on her record prior to her arrest and how she will be labeled a felon now for the rest of her life.

You can watch Bernadine Morimoto’s full impact statement by CLICKING HERE.

Abygaile’s mother, Korie Morimoto was also charged for failing to protect her daughters. She said she was trying to document Bennett’s abuse to eventually get custody of the girls.

Last week, she agreed to a plea deal and according to records, she will not serve time behind bars. 

The case is closed.

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