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Serenity Richardson
June 16, 2006 - November 11, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial

Everyone knows that at the age of three, children can easily have accidents after not reaching the bathroom in time to use the toilet. Should an accident cause a beautiful little Angel to lose her life? Erica Mae Butts and Shanita Latrice Cunningham certainly thought so. Erica and Shanita look all sad and upset and feeling sorry for themselves in the pictures I have seen of them, online, funny thing to me cause no one beat them to death, what do they have to be upset about?. Erica and Shanita took a belt and hit Serenity Richardson over and over with it for days, for having an accident on the bathroom floor. Serenity was beaten o bad, that Serenity died. Erica and Shanita were taking care of Serenity, and Erica, who was her Goddaughter and was supposed to be best friends with her mother,

Apparently, Leisha had left her daughter with her best friend for a couple of moths, trusting that she would be okay in her care. Erica got scared when Serenity would not respond, only instead of calling 911, she called her own mother and didn't tell her what happened, her mother called 911. Police went to the home and this is what was said:

"We found a three year old was deceased, was transported to the hospital. We ended up making an arrest of a person at the house. Any child abuse is awful no matter what jurisdiction you live in. Any time that a child or an elder person, or a person is beaten or injured, every one of them are terrible"
Captain Jon Rogers

Police reports say that there were suspicious injuries consistent with child abuse, all over her body. Medical Personal said that they saw bruises all over her chest, stomach, legs, arms, feet, back and her head. Erica was charged with homicide by child abuse and bond was denied. Christopher Lizzi represented her and said:

"Erica is a young lady who has never been in trouble, never had any history of any problems
whatsoever. this is a shock for the entire family and the grieve for the mother of the child"

In court for the bond hearing was Leisha Richardson, Serenity's mother, Erica began crying and saying how sorry she was for what she did. Christopher Lizzi said:

"Everything that happened here today shows just how tragic this is. This is friends and acquaintances.
My client is the God mother of the child who is deceased"

Excuse me but what the frick does that even mean? Obviously your client is an evil woman who doesn't deserve to be a Godmother to ANYONE! I am Godmother to some children and guess what, they're all alive! Guess what, I am not in court apologizing to their mother for killing them. Of course it's all tragic, this woman killed a little girl for peeing on the floor, THAT is what is tragic. Erica has never been in trouble before? She picked a fine time to start getting into trouble. Erica betrayed the trust of her friend and more importantly, the trust of a three year old little Angel.

In November of 2011, Erica Mae Butts and Shanita Latrice Cunningham, who were both 25 years old at the time, collapsed when they heard that they would be spending the rest of their lives in prison for killing Serenity. Erica and Shanita were partners in life and in their crime, they had made pleas in August and Erica had taken an Alford plea meaning she could still say she was innocent, but she knew that if the case went to trial, she would be found guilty. Shanita had plead not guilty. The pleas were treated as equal pleas and at the time, the two women faced 20 years to life for killing Serenity. Erica's sister was so upset and shouted "NO" as she watched her sister being picked up off of the floor and Shanita being taken out of the court room in a chair. Erica's mother didn't want to leave the courtroom:

"I can't leave my baby like this"

Do these women realize what these monsters did to a child? Do they know the pain this baby went through for a simple accident that reports say was caused because the child was afraid of the two women who were trusted to care for her? Doesn't the life of Serenity mean anything to them at all? At some point, they all left the court room. People who were there to support Erica and Shanita, though God only knows WHY they would, were taken from the courtroom first and then friends and family of Leisha were lead outside.

Assistant Solicitor Elizabeth Gordon said in court that the injuries on Serenity's body were consistent with what looked like weeks of abuse and torture:

"There was not a plane on her body that was spared, save the soles of her feet"

Circuit Judge Deadra Jefferson had viewed pictures of Serenity and said that it appeared she had been beaten to death:

"I've never had anything affect me as profoundly as the pictures I've viewed of this child"

The judge said that it appeared that Serenity had been so scared of these two women and that one pelvic injury was likely the cause of Serenity losing bladder control and having the accident. Cassandra Woosley, the lawyer for Shanita said that Shanita was not as responsible for the death, Erica was. Of course she said that Shanita had been beaten when she was a child and she grew up surrounded by abuse, was pregnant with her own daughter in the 9th grade. Shanita said in a letter that she wants to be a good mother some day:

"There is not a day that goes by that I don't wish I could go back and change everything"

I bet that Serenity and her family feel the same way. I am so tired of people who commit crimes against children using the "I was abused as a child" excuse. You KNOW how it felt, why would you put another child through that? While I feel badly that any child is abused, I feel ZERO sympathy for ANY adult who uses it as an excuse to get sympathy to try to get out of the things they have done.

Crying in court, Erica screamed at Leisha:

"I will always love you no matter what. I just want to tell you I'm so, so sorry"

Sorry, Erica, you WOULD and you DID kill her, a beautiful little Angel who trusted you as her Godmother to take care of her, not to beat her to death. I guess you tried to get sympathy by bringing up that you were raped at the age of 15, I am sorry that would happen to anyone, but again, trying to get sympathy and use what happened as an excuse to abuse a child, that's DISGUSTING!

Leisha spoke to the judge saying that all she has left of her daughter are some clothing, toys and a lock of her hair:

"All I wanted to do was be a good mother and do right by her. Nobody deserves what she received.
I am past being sad about this. I am angry. I am very, very angry"

Erica's Lawyer, Melissa Gay, said that Shanita was controlling and aggressive during their relationship and that she was abusive towards Erica, saying that Erica was meek. Melissa tried to get Erica to give her information that would lead to the death of Serenity being Shanita's fault, but Erica would not give her anything. Erica said in court that she was not aware that her beating this child was causing Serenity to die saying she had a close relationship with Serenity's mother and that she had confided in only Leisha when she was raped at age 15 adding that she had been in the hospital with her when Serenity was born:

"I was responsible for some things, but I would never kill her"

In court, Leisha wore a purple shirt with the serenity prayer on it:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference



Death occurred in the state of South Carolina

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