BOSSIER PARISH, LA (KSLA) - UPDATED 10:00 A.M. - Bossier Parish District Attorney Schuyler Marvin says Catherine Lowe pled guilty to a charge of manslaughter for her part in the January 2011 death of her stepdaughter, Celeste.
"Even though it's only 25 years at least we're guaranteed she's going to spend those years in jail," said Jamie Mercer, mother of Celeste Lowe.
While she admits to wanting a stiffer penalty for Catherine Lowe, Mercer understands the strategy on the part of the DA's office to offer Lowe a lesser charge for a guilty plea.
"This is a case that could go either way at the trial level could have gone either way on the appellate level," said Bossier DA Schuyler Marvin.
For his office it was a choice between the Catherine possibly getting zero years, or 25 years.
When asked how he responds to some who think she should spend more time in jail Marvin said "I can understand that but you have to know the facts of the case - it takes a 12 person jury to decide if you brought enough facts to warrant a conviction for murder."
Marvin says the deal was offered a long time ago, because while prosecutors had evidence that pointed to a beating death, the actual cause of death was difficult to prove.
"Both sides, us and the defense, had experts that were prepared to testify what they thought caused the child's death, obviously those opinions conflicted with each other," said Marvin.
Jury selection in her 2nd degree murder trial was set to being Monday morning. A manslaughter conviction would be a lesser sentence from the one she would face if convicted of 2nd degree murder.
Jury selection is set to begin Monday for a Bossier Parish couple accused of killing their 5-year-old daughter.
34-year-old Wesley Lowe is charged with negligent homicide while his wife, 36-year-old Catherine Lowe, is charged with 2nd degree murder in the death of 5-year-old Celeste Lowe back in January 2011.
Detectives working the case say on the morning of January 13, 2011, Catherine said her stepdaughter Celeste had been sick and vomiting, so instead of taking the girl to school Catherine brought the child to work. Catherine and Wesley both said they thought Celeste was sick from a stomach virus.
Authorities say Catherine reportedly passed several hospitals on the way back to their Elm Grove home. When she got home, Wesley and Catherine drove Celeste back to W. K. Pierremont where she was pronounced dead.
An autopsy of the child by the Bossier Parish Coroner showed she died from "blunt force trauma to her abdominal cavity."
In January 2012, Celeste's biological mother, Jamie Mercer, filed a lawsuit against Child Protective Services, the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office and the state's Attorney General. Wesley and Catherine Lowe are also named in the lawsuit.
Mercer believes her daughter was a victim of the child welfare system and Celeste's death should have been prevented.
I don't have anything else to lose," Mercer said. "I've lost my daughter. I've buried her. The only thing I can do now is make sure that her voice is heard."
Mercer's attorney, Charles Kincade, echoed his client's feelings.
"This case involves a multitude of errors and omissions. I mean this was a calamity. (There were) numerous errors."
Mercer is seeking monetary damages but says the purpose of the suit is to prevent a death like Celeste's from happening to another child.