DALLAS, TX -- A 14-year-old girl won't be tried as an adult in the drowning death early this year of an infant at the Dallas apartment they shared, a state district judge ruled Friday.
The teenager had faced a life sentence if found guilty as an adult of capital murder in the January death of 2-month-old Justice Hull.
But Judge Cheryl Lee Shannon determined the teen will be tried as a juvenile. The longest punishment she could receive is 40 years.
The girl has not been identified because of her age.
Justice died while living with the family of the teen because the infant's mother, Keshondria Hull, was in jail, The Dallas Morning News has reported. A report by state Child Protective Services said Justice was hospitalized after she was born because she tested positive for cocaine and PCP, according to the paper.
One the baby recovered from drug withdrawal, CPS approved her stay with the family of the teen. The teen's unidentified mother, who was at work when Justice died, was friends with Keshondria Hull.
Investigators who charged the teen in the death have not indicated a motive.
In the days before Justice died, the teen's mother had asked CPS for day-care assistance because her 19-year-old son, who was helping care for the infant, was returning to school, the paper reported. The woman was referred to another agency and she ultimately didn't receive the assistance she had sought.
When the woman left for work Jan. 26, Justice was left in the care of the 14-year-old girl and her twin sister.
"There's very little doubt that this investigation has revealed that this is an intentional act," the Morning News reported police spokesman Rob Sherwin as saying at the time.