A state appeals court panel has rejected a former Pomona resident’s contention that she should be re-sentenced for abusing her 3-year-old daughter, who eventually died and whose body has never been found.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal agreed that a Superior Court judge properly ruled in denying Simona Denise Demery’s petition to vacate her conviction for second-degree murder and to re-sentence her as a result of a recent change in state law.
Demery was convicted along with her boyfriend, Jeffrey Jones, in 2001 of second-degree murder, child abuse, corporal injury to a child, conspiracy to commit assault resulting in death and two other conspiracy charges involving her daughter, Alicia Versluis.
Demery also was convicted of assault on a child causing death, while Jones was acquitted of that charge.
Demery and Jones are each serving state prison terms of nearly 34 years to life.
At her August 2001 sentencing, Demery said, “I would never hurt her … I spanked her and that was intentional, but never meaning to cause anyone to die.”
Jones said then that they were just trying to be “good parents. We would not do this to hurt somebody. We did not try to kill anything.”
Jones and Demery were arrested May 8, 2000, a day after Demery reported that the girl had vanished during an outing to Ganesha Park in Pomona the Sunday before Mother’s Day. Authorities believe the fatal beatings occurred sometime between May 1 and May 6, 2000.
Officers who visited the couple’s home in the 800 block of West Holt Avenue to follow up on the girl’s disappearance found filthy and unsafe conditions. Investigators later used dogs trained to sniff out cadavers to try to find the child’s body in a field in Pomona where they were told it was buried, but determined that the remains had never been there.
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