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PROVO — A Lehi mother has been sentenced to up to five years in prison in the death of her 13-month-old daughter, who ingested her parents' heroin and died.
Cassandra Leydsman Richards, 33, was sentenced Feb. 22 for child abuse homicide, a third-degree felony. She had pleaded guilty to the charge in January as a second-degree felony, but prosecutors agreed to reduce it at sentencing as part of the plea deal, according to court documents.
Also in the plea, Richards agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and testify against her husband, Casey Joseph Cormani, who still faces charges of endangerment of a child, a first-degree felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor.
Cormani is due in court Wednesday to decide whether he will proceed to a preliminary hearing, where prosecutors must present evidence that a crime was committed, or waive the proceeding.
Cormani and Richards were arrested June 7, 2016, six months after their 1-year-old daughter, Penny Mae Cormani, died of a heroin overdose large enough that police said it would have killed an adult.
In an investigation that began shortly after the girl's death, Cormani and Richards told police they had been staying a short time with another couple in a Provo apartment at 509 W. 1800 North prior to their daughter's death.
Charging documents say both couples were known to use heroin and had been "binging" for several days when Penny died.
Richards told police that on Dec. 2, 2015, Penny had been playing in the front room of the home while the mother did laundry. She put the girl down for a nap around 11 a.m., Richards told investigators, and found her unresponsive an hour later with blue lips, according to police affidavits. Richards called 911 and paramedics took Penny to Utah Valley Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Investigators reported finding drug paraphernalia such as burnt foil and straws in plain sight in multiple places around the home, including on the floor, on a coffee table and in a bathroom trash can.
Both Cormani and Richards, who have prior drug convictions, have faced additional criminal charges in unrelated incidents involving drugs following their daughter's death.