Alexis Herrera: Woman to join sister, brother-in-law in prison for torture death of 3-yr-old who was found weighing only 30 lbs

Alexis Herrera: Woman to join sister, brother-in-law in prison for torture death of 3-yr-old who was found weighing only 30 lbs
Alexis Herrera (L), now convicted of a series of felonies, will be incarcerated alongside her sister (Center) and brother-in-law (R) in the death of Bella Rae Seachrist (Allegheny County Jail)

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ALLEGHENY, PENNSYLVANIA: A Pennsylvania woman has pleaded guilty to her involvement in the torture and killing of a 3-year-old girl who was found badly bruised and malnourished before her death.

Alexis Herrera, now convicted of a series of felonies, will be incarcerated alongside her sister and brother-in-law in connection with the tragic slaying of young Bella Rae Seachrist.

Herrera entered guilty pleas for charges including aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of a child, unlawful restraint, conspiracy to commit criminal homicide, and a general charge of criminal homicide.

Judge to hold Alexis Herrera's degree of guilt hearing

According to Law&Crime, Judge Bruce R Beemer from Allegheny County will lead a "degree of guilt hearing." In the hearing, which is not scheduled yet, both sides will show evidence about Herrera's role in Bella's murder.

Following this hearing, the judge will determine whether Herrera is guilty of first-degree murder, third-degree murder, or involuntary manslaughter.

Herrera, facing a potential sentence ranging from 10 years to life without parole, will be incarcerated alongside her sister, Laura Ramirez, and brother-in-law, Jose Salazar-Ortiz Sr, for their roles in Bella's death.

Salazar-Ortiz, Bella's biological father, was convicted in a nonjury trial presided over by Beemer, receiving sentences for third-degree murder, aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of children, and conspiracy, amounting to 33 to 66 years in prison.

Similarly, Ramirez, Bella's stepmother who was considered the main orchestrator of the torture and abuse, was found guilty of first-degree murder by Beemer and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, with an additional 37 to 74 years.

During Ramirez's hearing, Beemer claimed, “There was no other possible result, based on what occurred day after day, week after week, month after month, but for her to die in one of the most horrific ways possible.”

He emphasized, “The pain, the hunger — I cannot envision a worse fate for that child than the one she suffered at your hands in that house in Oakmont.”

Bella Rae Seachrist was found unresponsive in bathtub

According to a press release issued by the Allegheny County Police Department, officers responded to an emergency call at a residence on Tenth Street in the afternoon of June 9, 2020.

The call reported that a 3-year-old child, later identified as Bella, was found "unresponsive" in a bathtub.

Upon arrival, officers and paramedics discovered the child in a horrifying condition. 

According to the press release, "When officers and paramedics arrived, they found the child appearing to be badly bruised and malnourished. Officers and medics performed life saving measures and transported the child to an area hospital where the child was pronounced deceased."

Investigators concluded that the victim had suffered prolonged physical and mental abuse, with Salazar-Ortiz, Ramirez, and Herrera all implicated in the crime.

Autopsy reveals Bella Rae Seachrist’s cause of death

The medical examiner who conducted Bella's autopsy concluded that her death was a homicide, with the cause being severe, long-term abuse and neglect.

At the time of her death, the 3-year-old was severely underweight, to the extent that her bones were visible through her skin, and she was so malnourished that her hair was falling out.

Despite nearing her fourth birthday, Bella weighed less than 30 pounds.

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