Convictions on murder charges and life sentences for the mother of baby Elaina Steinfurth and her boyfriend today signaled the end to a long, tragic saga in the city, Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates said this afternoon.
“I think that what we did was the right thing to do for all of the right reasons,” Mrs. Bates said, referring to the plea agreements that brought the cases to a conclusion.
“I believe it was justice,” she said. “I believe it was right and true and honorable.”
Steven King II, 24, pleaded guilty to aggravated murder, tampering with evidence, abuse of a corpse, and obstructing justice in the June 2 death of his girlfriend’s 18-month-old daughter. Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Ruth Ann Franks sentenced him to the agreed-upon term of life in prison with eligibility for parole after 25 years.
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Angela Steinfurth, 25, was sentenced to life in prison with parole eligibility after 18 years by Judge Gary Cook after she entered Alford pleas to charges of murder and obstructing justice.
In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit to committing the crime but acknowledges evidence was sufficient for a conviction.
Judge Cook also imposed a $25,000 fine on Steinfurth.
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King told the court Steinfurth was at his Federal Street home June 2 with her two daughters. He said he found Elaina in the bedroom that morning injured and having trouble breathing.
“I panicked. I thought she was dying. I covered her mouth and nose with my hand and held it there until she stopped breathing,” he said. “After Elaina died, I wrapped her body in a bag and hid the body in the garage.”
Steinfurth did not make a statement in court, but Ian English, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, told the court that evidence would have shown that on the evening of June 1, Steinfurth became frustrated with Elaina’s crying and threw her across the bedroom.
Mr. English said King was present when this happened. He told the court the couple had sex, and, in the morning, Steinfurth was alarmed to see the injuries on her daughter, afraid she would lose her children.
King smothered the child, he said, before disposing of her body in the garage.
An autopsy conducted after Elaina’s badly decomposed remains were found in that garage Sept. 5showed that Elaina died from “non-accidental trauma,” including five fractured bones around the joints of her arms and legs.
Ms. Steinfurth and King have been held in the Lucas County jail for several months on a charge of obstructing justice for lying and misleading police in their search for Elaina.
The toddler was reported missing June 2 after Terry “TJ” Steinfurth – the child’s father –went to the Federal Street home to pick up his two daughters from his estranged wife. Steinfurth initially told him that Elaina was asleep and she didn’t want to wake her, but later when Mr. Steinfurth returned for Elaina, Steinfurth said she couldn’t find the girl – a lie that led to a months-long search by police, the FBI, firefighters, volunteers, dogs, and even psychics.
The couple also has a 4-year-old daughter, Kylee, who was not harmed.