FREEHOLD - A baby sitter found guilty in the death of the child she was caring for has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Michelle Heale was sentenced for the aggravated manslaughter of 14-month-old Mason Hess. She was also sentenced to six years for endangering the welfare of a child, to run concurrently with her manslaughter sentence.
Heale was found guilty in April. Prosecutors say Heale shook Hess so hard that he suffered brain lacerations and spinal injuries.
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Heale maintains that the boy was choking on applesauce while sitting on her bedroom floor and that she tried to help him by slapping him on the back.
The trial was transferred from Ocean County because Heale's husband and the child's father both work for the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.