CLARKSBURG -- The world can only guess what kind of life Tiea Marie McIntire might have had. Little Tiea, age 10 months, died June 19, 2002, while in a baby sitter's care.
Now the baby sitter's life changes forever, too. Toni J. Arcuri, 20, convicted of death of a child by parent, guardian or custodian, was sentenced to 10 years in prison Thursday by Harrison County Circuit Judge James A. Matish.
Matish, a judge since 2001, handed down a much sterner sentence than that envisioned by defense attorney Tom Dyer and Special Prosecutor Fred Giggenbach. Dyer and Giggenbach had joined in recommending Arcuri be sent to the Anthony Correctional Center for youthful offenders, where she would go through a program that can last anywhere from six months to two years. If she successfully completed it, their plea deal had suggested five years' probation follow.
"I've considered this long and hard," said Matish, who termed it one of his more difficult decisions as a judge. "I just do not believe under the facts and circumstances of this case that the Anthony Center is sufficient."
The sentence wasn't the stiffest Matish could have handed down; Arcuri could have faced up to 40 years in prison. But the judge noted she had no previous criminal record, and her age also was mentioned.
Before the sentence, Tiea's mother and father, Tommy McIntire and Marsha McCloy, told the court they remained distraught over their loss.
McCloy recalled dropping off Tiea that last time.
"When I gave Tiea my kiss before I left, I never thought that would be the last time I'd get to see her alive," McCloy said. " ... Her sister misses her. We can't bring her back. We got to celebrate her birthday at the cemetery. We never got to see her walk, we never got to celebrate her first birthday ... "
The parents declined comment following the verdict. Tiea's grandfather, Terry McCloy, gave a brief statement.
"The 10 years will never bring my granddaughter back, but maybe some justice will be served," he said.
Arcuri sat quietly for most of the hearing, and even after the judge handed down the sentence. Then she began to cry quietly as Dyer tried to console her.
But when Matish ordered her taken into custody immediately instead of letting her report to jail later, she began sobbing openly.
"I've got to see my baby before I go," Arcuri said. Arcuri has a toddler herself, one reason Marsha McCloy said she had entrusted her with the care of Tiea.
About 50 people were on hand for the hearing, most either friends or relatives of either Tiea's parents or Arcuri. Four court security officers from the sheriff's department were on hand, in addition to the investigating officer, Clarksburg Police Detective Cpl. Robert Matheny. The officers kept the families apart until just before the hearing, and one of the deputies sat in the middle of the gallery aisle during the proceedings while the others kept a watchful eye on the spectators.
Arcuri was given credit for the one year she has served in home confinement. She also was ordered to pay $1,250 in restitution, for funeral expenses.