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U.S. woman pleads 'no contest' to starving child

A Michigan woman accused of starving her adopted quadriplegic daughter to death and stashing the body in a storage unit pleaded no contest Friday to involuntary manslaughter.

A Michigan woman accused of starving her adopted quadriplegic daughter to death and stashing the body in a storage unit pleaded no contest Friday to involuntary manslaughter.

Lorrie Thomas's plea came four days before she was to go to trial on second-degree murder and other charges.

The body of Shylae Thomas, 9, was found inside a 123-litre container in a storage unit in Vienna Township, about 100 kilometres northwest of Detroit, in April. Police have said the girl was starved to death.

Her body was covered in mothballs and stored for about six weeks before it was discovered.

Authorities claimed Thomas didn't provide enough liquid nutrition through a permanent feeding tube in the girl's stomach.

"There are certainly no winners in this situation," prosecutor David Leyton said in a statement. "I am only gratified in knowing that we, as a community, were able to give Shylae's life the respect it deserved in a court of law."

While a no-contest plea is not a guilty plea, it is treated the same when determining a sentence.

Thomas, who returns to court in early January, faces up to 15 years in prison.

Defence lawyer Mark Clement said Thomas received conflicting feeding instructions and didn't intend to mistreat the child. But he said a plea deal was in her best interest.

"You'd have a jury that's going to look at horrific photographs of a child that's been paralyzed all her life," Clement told The Associated Press. "We were really concerned the jury would have no context to put that in, other than their own healthy children."

Thomas was Shylae's biological aunt and adopted her in 2003.

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