WATERBURY — A ghost. Possessed. She was just gone.
Those were some of the descriptions given Friday in Waterbury Superior Court of Angelina Jamele, a Naugatuck teenager who was only 17 when she was arrested for beating her grandmother, Italia Liguori, to death in 2009.
A judge Friday sentenced the 19-year-old Jamele to 27 years in prison for Liguori’s murder, but many who spoke on her behalf said the teen wasn’t herself on that tragic day.
She was still psychotic weeks after the homicide, they said, seeing things that weren’t there and referring to her grandmother as a demon.
Liguori’s brutalized body was found inside her condo on Lantern Park Drive in Naugatuck in September 2009 after Jamele called 911. Jamale refused to let an officer inside the home, forcing police to push open a sliding-glass door. Liguori’s pummeled body was found inside; it was later determined she died of blunt force trauma.
In a detailed statement, Jamele said she knocked her grandmother down, then beat her in the head with a wooden walking cane. She punched Liguori, then stomped on her while she was down and stood on her neck, according to her statement.
After the killing, she put her grandmother’s dress on and waited for police, according to her statement.
Jamele had told police the racing thoughts and chemical imbalances in her brain caused to her snap over a minor argument about how many towels Jamele should use to clean up her vomit.
On Friday, with her mother seated behind her, Jamele, a slender woman with long, brown hair descending down her back, turned to her public defender and started to sob as Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Amy Sedensky read portions of the statement during Friday’s hearing.
In asking for 28 years in prison, the maximum sentence allowed under a negotiated plea deal, Sedensky called the killing senseless. Jamele concealed the murder by showering afterward and changing clothes, she said. Her call to 911 was calm, but made no mention of her involvement in the homicide, Sedensky said.
Those actions showed she was thinking rationally at the time of the killing, she said.
Liguori’s injuries, which included multiple broken ribs, showed she had fought Jamele as hard as she could, Sedensky said.
Although Jamele is in her late teens, she is still a child, said her attorney, Tashun Bowden-Lewis. The killing wasn’t intentional and she should have been charged with manslaughter, not murder, her attorney said.
People who spoke on Jamele’s behalf, including a psychiatrist, her mother and a case worker from the Department of Children and Families, described the teen as charismatic and bright. She received her GED and a culinary certificate while she has been locked up, they said.
Clinicians assigned to her case said she spoke of dragons and demons, saw things that weren’t real and showed signs of paranoid delusions while she was in their care after the killing.
But Jamele said Friday she wasn’t a monster. She misses her grandmother, a woman she described as sweet and loving.
“She was there to wipe the tears away,” Jamele said. “Ever since I was a child, I glued myself to her.”
Jamele described a tough upbringing, saying she was introduced to heroin when she was 15. Bounced around from place to place, her life was dysfunctional, she said. She never planned to kill the woman she described as the glue of her family.
“It was like a bad dream to me,” she said. “She was my all and all.”
Liguori now appears to her as an angel in her dreams, she said.
Judge Richard Damiani admitted that Jamele had a tough upbringing, but said the killing was vicious. Her actions after the killing indicated the intent to kill.
“She’s no longer here because of you,” he said. “You’re here saying ‘poor me.'”