MARION - Twenty-year-old Karrae Starr is looking at serving from 20 to 60 years in state prison after a Williamson County jury found her guilty but mentally ill of first-degree murder in the death of her 3-year-old daughter, Bianca, nearly two years ago.
Jurors deliberated for nearly two hours Tuesday after hearing closing arguments from State's Attorney Charles Garnati and public defender Larry Broeking.
"It was a very emotional case for the situation involved. I think the jury's verdict was appropriate. She was definitely guilty of first-degree murder," Garnati said after the verdict was delivered.
Judge Phillip Palmer, who presided, set sentencing for 9:30 a.m. May 25.
Garnati said no probation will be involved in the sentencing. Starr's mental illness finding doesn't reduce the sentence, but it will allow her a difference in state prison confinement as she will get more help, he said.
"Obviously this lady has mental problems," Garnati said.
Daniel Kay of the state's attorney general's office in Carbondale assisted Garnati with the case.
During closing arguments, Garnati and Broeking reviewed their interpretations of witnesses and evidence presented in the case, which included emergency calls to the 911 operator from Karrae Starr at Ten Oaks Apartment in Carterville on the night of Sept. 27, 2008, after she suffocated the child by covering her mouth and nose with her hand, ultimately causing the child's death by asphyxiation. The child was in bed at the time.
Also testifying on behalf of the defense was Dr. Daniel Cuneo, a clinical psychologist from the St. Louis area who said Starr was legally sane at the time of the killing, but was mentally ill. He based his testimony on psychological evaluations ordered by the court. Cuneo testified that he diagnosed Starr as having a borderline personality disorder.