MINEOLA (PIX11) -- A Long Island mother pleaded guilty to killing her 8-year-old disabled daughter in 2011 by feeding her peanut M&M's, according to Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas.
Veronica Cirella, 34, appeared in Nassau County Court of Claims Thursday to face a charge of first-degree manslaughter, with an expected sentence of 12 years in prison. She is due back in court on June 30.
The incident happened on July 23, 2011 -- a day when 8-year-old Julie Cirella was supposed to be a flower girl at her uncle's wedding. But on that day, the uncle found the child, who suffered from cerebral palsy, unconscious and not breathing at her home. The mother was also found unconscious, and with a wire tied around her neck.
The child was pronounced dead on the scene. Cirella told the police that she gave her daughter candy containing peanut by-product knowing that her daughter was allergic to peanuts. She also claimed that she gave her daughter Benadryl and an “EpiPen” after her daughter had an allergic reaction.
However, no Benadryl or contents of an EpiPen were found in Julie Cirella’s system. The Medical Examiner’s office determined that Julie Cirella died of asphyxiation but could not determine what caused the asphyxiation.
Cirella left a suicide note asserting an intention to kill her daughter. In court Thursday, she admitted to performing an act with the intention to cause serious physical injury to her daughter and that that act caused the death of her daughter.
“Julie Cirella's young life was cut tragically short by the one person who should have protected her, her mother,” Acting DA Singas said. “I commend our prosecutors for their dogged commitment to bringing justice for the young victim in this case. Our thoughts and prayers are with Julie and her loved ones.”