EDGEFIELD, S.C. - A Florida woman who killed her 6-month-old son in South Carolina because she was angry when the child’s father wouldn’t answer her texts or phone calls was sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday.
Vernita Lashon Jones told police she suffocated her son, Anthony Frost, and then dumped the baby’s body in a trash bin behind an apartment in Johnston. The child’s remains were found in a Greenville County landfill in November 2018, prosecutors said.
Jones, 27, pleaded guilty to homicide by child abuse in Edgefield County, The Aiken Standard reported.
She faced 30 years to life in prison, but her attorney asked for leniency, saying Jones suffered from mental illness and was considering killing her son and herself but did not take enough pills combined with alcohol.
“She was essentially born a crack baby, was raped, abandoned, and had a string of bad boyfriends. We ask the court for whatever mercy the court seems fit to give,” public defender Bennett Casto said.
Jones lived in Clewiston, Florida, but left her son’s father and moved to South Carolina with the baby. Prosecutors said she then began leaving angry messages on the father’s phone and disturbing text messages like “answer the phone before I kill him” and “call us now before I beat him.’”
Friends in Johnston called police after seeing her around her apartment complex without the baby.
“Your selfishness robbed this child the opportunity to crawl, take his first steps or even utter his first words.,” Johnston Police Chief Lamaz Robinson said, saying the crime shocked and hurt his town of 2,350 known for being in the middle of South Carolina’s peach country.
The father’s family didn’t come to court because of COVID-19 but wrote a statement to the judge asking for a life sentence.
“Everyone remember Anthony as the baby who was loved by his family in Florida and not just a baby who was placed in a dumpster,” the statement said.
Jones, wearing a mask, cried during the hearing and said she wished she could do anything to bring back her son.
“I know I decided to do a horrible, horrible thing and I know that I can’t take it back,” Jones said. “I know I’ve offended a lot of people, not just my family but people statewide. I just want to say I wish that day never happened.”