BRADENTON (FOX 13) - The mother accused of keeping her daughter’s body in a freezer took a plea deal Wednesday.
Keishanna Thomas, 33, faced a first-degree murder charge but pleaded down to second-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, and abuse of a dead body. The deal will shorten her sentence. She faced life in prison if she had gone to trial.
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The shorter sentence is 65 years - 65 years for second-degree murder, 15 years for aggravated child abuse, five years for abuse of a body, and an additional five years for the abuse of her son - all to be served concurrently.
Thomas wiped tears from her eyes as the sentence was read during court. She told the judge she accepted the plea deal to spare her children a trial.
Keishanna has been in jail since 2015. Her daughter, Janiya was just 11 years old when she went missing.
Manatee County Sheriff's Office detectives said they have investigated Keishanna 10 times since 2003. The tenth investigation began after receiving a report in September 2015 about possible child abuse.
Four of her children were removed from her custody by the Department of Children and Families. But her fifth, Janiya, was missing, and officials said Keishanna refused to tell them of her whereabouts.
The last time authorities saw the 11-year-old was in August 2014.
By October 2015, relatives found Janiya’s body inside a freezer owned by Keishanna. Investigators said the body was likely in the freezer for a long time.
According to records, the mother of five has a history with Child Protective Services since 2000. Through 2015, she was investigated for family violence, physical abuse, and neglect.