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Mother sentenced for shaken-baby death

Posted at 11:40 AM, Feb 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-03 19:11:47-05

Leslie Finch, a 26-year-old Kill Buck woman from Cattaraugus County, who was found guilty of manslaughter in the 2015 death of her 1-year-old daughter Mila Whipple, has been sentenced to 20 years in jail.

On April 24, 2015, Mila Whipple was rushed to Women & Children's Hospital in Buffalo from a residence on Broad Street, Salamanca after the child was found injured and not breathing.  The child died two days later from her injuries with the hospital reporting to Salamanca Police that it was most likely due to abuse.  Investigators later said Mila's traumatic brain injury was caused by shaking.

One month after her death, Leslie Finch, the child's mother, was arrested and charged.  Finch was later found guilty of manslaughter, assault of a child, and endangering the welfare of her child in December 2016.

The case created a community outrage because many people suspected the child was being abused well before her death.  During the trial, District Attorney Lori Rieman presented medical reports that showed the child had suffered abuse before her death.  Those injuries included fractured ribs and injuries to her spine.

7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly is in Cattaraugus County today and will have more on the sentencing tonight.

Officials are reminding the public that if they suspect that a child is being abused, they can call the NYS Hotline at 1-800-342-3720.

According to the NYS Office of Children & Family Services, signs of abuse can include the following:

? Injuries to the eyes or both sides of the head or body (accidental injuries typically only affect one side of the body);
? Frequent injuries of any kind (bruises, cuts, and/or burns), especially if the child is unable to provide an adequate explanation of the cause. These may appear in distinctive patterns such as grab marks, human bite marks,
cigarette burns, or impressions of other instruments;
? Destructive, aggressive, or disruptive behavior;
? Passive, withdrawn, or emotionless behavior;
? Fear of going home or fear of parent(s).

Indicators of Sexual Abuse Can Include:

? Symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases; ? Injury to genital area;
? Difficulty and/or pain when sitting or walking;
Sexually suggestive, inappropriate, or promiscuous
behavior or verbalization;
? Expressing age-inappropriate knowledge of sexual
relations;
? Sexual victimization of other children.

Indicators of Maltreatment Can Include:

? Obvious malnourishment, listlessness, or fatigue;
? Stealing or begging for food;
? Lack of personal care—poor personal hygiene, torn
and/or dirty clothes;
? Untreated need for glasses, dental care, or other medical
attention;
? Frequent absence from or tardiness to school;
? Child inappropriately left unattended or without
supervision.