A California couple has been sentenced to more than 30 years behind bars for the tortuous death of a 4-year-old girl nearly 10 years ago.
Ronald Geer and his girlfriend Bianca Stanch were previously charged with first-degree murder for the 2012 death of Greer’s daughter, Samiah Downing. Both were sentenced to 32 years in prison to life on March 12 for first-degree murder, torture and child abuse with a special allegation of causing death. They were found guilty of the crimes on Oct. 6, 2020.
Samiah, Greer’s daughter, was 4 years old at the time of her death and burial in a shallow grave in the San Bernardino County desert.
San Bernardino County Prosecuting Deputy District Attorney Justin Crocker shared details of the case in a statement on Facebook Tuesday.
According to prosecutors, Stanch — who witnesses said had “extreme dislike for Samiah and treated her poorly” — routinely beat the little girl, tortured her, and locked her in a room, and she and Greer regularly deprived her of water.
“Witnesses also testified that Stanch and Greer duct-taped Samiah’s wrists and ankles together on multiple occasions and left her overnight so that she could not get out to get water,” Crocker said.
It was also alleged that on one occasion Samiah was able to escape the room she was locked in and on her search for liquid to drink, she consumed a cleaning solution.
The Deputy D.A. added, “Unfortunately, because of the actions of her father and his girlfriend, Samiah wasn’t here to tell her own story to the jurors. Thankfully, the evidence at trial told the tragic story for her. Samiah was betrayed by the people closest to her and they have now been held accountable for that betrayal.”
Of the child’s death, the prosecutor’s office said, “Evidence at trial showed that Samiah was beaten and forced to stand in the corner for eight hours on the day before her death. The abuse continued the next day when Stanch beat Samiah all over her body with a belt and cords. Stanch then poured a pot of boiling water on Samiah’s back and chest. Samiah was also denied water to drink during these final days of her life.”
“On the evening of her death, Samiah began acting lethargic and sleepy. She was locked inside a bedroom within the apartment and was left with Stanch’s cousin, Rayshawn Stanch, while Stanch and Greer went to dinner,” the statement continued.
By the time the couple came home, Samiah was dead.
Rayshawn Stanch pled guilty earlier this year to his involvement in this crime, the prosecutor’s office said. It’s unclear if he’s been sentenced yet.
Per Crocker’s statement, the couple and Stanch’s cousin drove Samiah’s body to the desert, where they left her in a shallow grave.
“An autopsy revealed that her cause of death was dehydration,” Crocker said in the statement. “At the time of her death, Samiah’s weight placed her in the 5th percentile for her age. Samiah had been in the 50th percentile for her weight just six months before her death.”
The D.A. said Greer denied knowing his daughter was suffering from abuse, however, “Several inconsistencies emerged during cross-examination on the events of 2012 and what Greer knew about how Samiah was being treated.”
Stanch’s attorney Vonya K. Quarles did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment. Greer represented himself at trial and could not immediately be reached.
The trial was delayed for nearly ten years at the defense’s request, the D.A.’s statement said. A date was eventually set to begin in March 2020, but had to be postponed again due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Friends, family members, and teachers testified about the sweet and happy little girl they knew and loved,” per the statement.
District Attorney Jason Anderson added, “Torturing a child in San Bernardino County will be met with the most vigorous of prosecutions, and those responsible will be held accountable for their actions.”
“When Samiah was murdered, our community was also greatly affected by the actions of her killers. From Samiah’s extended family, friends, and teachers, to the law enforcement officers investigating this crime, to everyone in the district attorney’s office that had a part in this case, we will always hold Samiah in our memory and our hearts,” Anderson said.