Sydney Powell, 23, was sentenced to at least 15 years behind bars on Thursday, after hitting her mother Brenda Powell, 50, with an iron skillet on March 3, 2020 in Akron, before stabbing her nearly 30 times in the neck, prosecutors said.
The 23-year-old was found guilty of murder, assault and tampering with evidence, and will spend at least a decade and a half in custody, after which time she will be eligible for parole.
Powell stabbed her mother after she was suspended by Mount Union University for poor grades. School officials were on the phone with her mother at the time of the attack and heard screaming on the other end of the line.
“The phone cut off at some point after, I would say, somewhere in the neighborhood of six or seven of those thudding, those sort of thud sounds, and the screaming had continued,” associate dean of students Michelle Gaffney testified earlier this month.
School officials then called the Powell home back before a woman picked up claiming to be Brenda Powell.
“The voice on the other ends said, ‘Yes this is Brenda. Yes, this is Brenda,’ “ Ms Gaffney recalled. “It was not Brenda. I was sure it was Sydney. Both Dean (of Students John) Frasier and I looked at each other and sort of shook our heads at each other and said that’s not Brenda. He then said, ‘Sydney I think this is you, this is not Brenda.’ The phone (then) went dead.”
Brenda Powell, who was a child life specialist at Akron Children’s Hospital for 30 years, died from her injuries in hospital.
Judge McLaughlin told Brenda Powell’s family and friends she was “terribly sorry” for their loss. “To the victim, to the family and the friends, I am terribly sorry for your loss here. I cannot imagine what you have been through,” she said.
Powell, who was shackled at the waist, cried as she was led out of court.
The 23-year-old was diagnosed with schizophrenia by three defence experts who evaluated her.
But a clinical psychologist for the prosecution told the court that Powell had mental health issues but was not suffering a psychotic breakdown during the killing.
Investigators said she initially lied about the incident saying that there had been a break-in and smashed a window to stage the crime scene.