Published September 24, 2006

Mom in noted abuse case gets 35 years in girl's death

ORLANDO - A woman was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the death of her 4-year-old daughter in a case that led to changes in the state's child abuse hotline.

Kenya Hill, 29, was sentenced Friday by Orange Circuit Judge Thomas Turner. She had been convicted of second-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and violation of probation.

Hill's daughter, Kai Gadison, was found dead in 2004 in a filthy motel room shared with her mother and four siblings after Hill called 911. Kai died of blunt force trauma to the head, an autopsy report said.

Days earlier, a probation officer had notified the Department of Children and Families that the family's living conditions were squalid and inappropriate for children, but that call was not followed up on.

After the girl's death, the agency changed how calls to its abuse hotline were handled. Today, calls from a law enforcement officer, nurse or child welfare expert about a family with a history of abuse will trigger an investigation.

Arctic seal that washed ashore in state euthanized

FORT PIERCE - A 4-month-old arctic seal pup was euthanized Saturday, six days after it washed ashore on Florida's east coast, scientists said.

The female seal, one of two that were found this month, had been fighting a lung infection, which scientists at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution said was likely caused by water swallowed when it beached itself in Palm Beach County on Sept. 17.

Its condition worsened Friday after it went into a coma and suffered brain damage, said Gregory Bossart, Harbor Branch's director of marine mammal research and conservation.

"Everybody here is really sad and we're just hoping we can learn a little bit more from this whole situation," Bossart told the Tribune of Fort Pierce for Sunday's editions.

Scientists don't know why the two seals ended up 3,500 miles from their normal icy habitat off the coast of Newfoundland and Greenland.