The Turlock woman who was previously convicted of murder for slowly starving to death her special needs daughter was denied parole based on the callousness of her crime and the danger she posed to society, according to the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office.
Brandy Lee Rose Devine, 34, of Turlock was convicted in 2013 of second-degree murder, felony child endangerment with an enhancement for inflicting great bodily injury on a child under five years of age and being under the influence of a controlled substance. She was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.
During the trial, the Stanislaus County jury heard testimony about how Devine put her two-year-old daughter Stephanie, who had cerebral palsy, in her crib on the afternoon of July 13, 2012. The toddler was found dead on the afternoon of July 15, 2012. During that time, she was kept in a filthy room with several cats and was not given any food or water.
During this same time interval, Devine was taking care of her other three children who were seven months, four and six years old.
The medical examiner at the trial said Stephanie died of acute dehydration and malnutrition. Although almost three years old, the child weighed only 14 pounds. A law enforcement investigation found the baby’s clothes were soiled with urine and feces and her diaper even contained maggots.
During her interview with police detectives, Devine said she was feeling ill that weekend and didn’t really know why she never checked on Stephanie. She said she thought her oldest daughter, who was 6 years at the time, was taking care of the 2-year-old. She also admitted that she smoked methamphetamine the night before Stephanie’s body was found.
In the same interview Devine initially refused to believe Stephanie died from lack of food and water and tried to tell the detective she was probably suffocated by the cats.
At Devine’s parole hearing, Special Prosecutor Holly MacKinnon argued for continued confinement based on the danger Devine represents to the community should she be released given the callous circumstances of her crime and her lack of insight into what caused her to intentionally leave her 2-year-old baby to die.
A prison psychologist who interviewed Devine gave the opinion that she represented a low risk for future violence in the community if she were to be paroled. The Board noted Devine had received only one rules violation during her time in prison for fighting with another inmate in 2015 and had actively participated in programming such as a substance abuse, AA/NA, anger management, vocational training and college courses. The Board felt Devine expressed remorse and had a release plan which included transitional housing, family support and employment.
After deliberations, the Board determined that although Devine qualified for “youthful offender parole” consideration because she was 25 years old at the time of the offense, she still posed an unreasonable risk to public safety and denied parole for three years. The Board felt she also lacked insight into her motivation behind locking only one of her children in a room and failing to care for her for three days. They felt she needed to develop more insight into denial management and victim awareness.
This was Devine’s first parole hearing. She will be scheduled for another hearing in 2025 although she may petition the Board for an earlier date if there is a change in circumstances as defined under current law. Devine has been in prison for approximately eight years.