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HOUSTON (KIAH) — A Houston mother who initially falsely claimed in 2019 that her 5-year-old daughter fell to her death from an apartment balcony was sentenced to 40 years for beating the girl to death, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Thursday.

Andrea Webb, 24, pleaded guilty in September to the first-degree felony of injury to a child, which carries the same punishment range as a murder charge, five years to life in prison, and asked that her punishment be determined by a judge.

The judge conducted a pre-sentence investigation, which could include letters and testimony from Webb’s friends and family and sentenced her Wednesday.

Samantha Bell (Harris County District Attorney’s Office)

“Children are the most vulnerable and most innocent victims that we see in the criminal justice system, and a parent’s duty is to protect them, not violently beat them,” Ogg said.

According to prosecutors, Webb originally called police to her southwest Houston apartment on March 9, 2019, saying her daughter had fallen to her death from the second-story balcony of the family’s apartment. When police asked why the girl was bruised all over her body, Webb admitted that she lied and made up the story because she was scared that she might be charged with murder.

She admitted that she had repeatedly beaten the girl with belts and made her sit against the wall without the support of a chair for hours at a time and would beat her if she could not do the “wall sits,” prosecutors said.

Webb and her boyfriend, Devon Gibson, were arrested. Gibson’s case is still pending.

Assistant District Attorney Gilbert Sawtelle, who prosecuted the case and is a chief in the DA’s Child Fatality Section, said the sentence was justice for the young victim, Samantha Bell.

“This physical abuse went on for a long period of time and didn’t just happen on one day,” Sawtelle said.

He said that the girl died from a constellation of old and new blunt-force injuries, including patterned and looped scars, contusions and lacerations that resulted in pulmonary fat embolism, acute kidney injury and evidence of systematic stress response.

“The little girl’s body just couldn’t take it anymore,” Sawtelle said.