Mary Mazalic engaged in "horrendous, gratuitous" abuse, including starving the girl to the point where the child was at risk of dying, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Michael Downes said.
"She did it for no other reason than deliberate cruelty," he said.
Mazalic, 35, was convicted of first-degree assault of a child, criminal mistreatment and witness tampering.
The 30-year sentence -- about 18 years longer than the top punishment under state sentencing guidelines -- was recommended by deputy prosecutor Lisa Paul as well as the lead detective on the case.
It was an option because jurors who heard the case concluded there were aggravating factors to Mazalic's crimes, including deliberate cruelty involving a particularly vulnerable victim.
Jurors deliberated for about three hours before reaching their verdicts Sept. 27. Several attended Thursday's hearing.
Mazalic clearly didn't want to be there and was hustled into the courtroom by a brace of corrections officers.
She was at times tearful, and, when the judge asked if she had anything to offer, spoke too softly to be heard clearly in the courtroom gallery.
The girl Mazalic abused is the adopted sister of her boyfriend, Derron Alexis, 43. He is now awaiting trial, charged with first-degree criminal mistreatment, also accused of beating the girl, and withholding food and medical attention.
The girl had lived in New York with Alexis' parents, but in 2010 was sent to live in Mukilteo. Once here, evidence showed she was beaten with whips, burned with lit cigarettes and punished by being denied food.
When rescued in August 2011, the girl weighed just 51 pounds. Her body had lost nearly all its fat and had started metabolizing her muscles for energy.
The child is now living with foster parents. She sat with them in the courtroom's front row Thursday, wearing a flower print dress.
Lance Smith, the lead detective on the case for Mukilteo police, told the judge that in his nearly 21 years on the job he's never encountered a similar case. The defendant isn't just an abuser, but also a practiced liar, he said. When she realized that she was in trouble, Mazalic attempted to get investigators in a jam, claiming that they'd stolen a handgun while searching her home for evidence and then broke in later to plant it in the child's room.
Those allegations were investigated by an outside department and determined to be unfounded, but the claim provides insight into Mazalic's character, Smith said. At the time, the girl was undergoing treatment for severe starvation.
Mazalic "was not concerned with (the girl) being in the hospital. She was concerned with me uncovering the truth," Smith said.
Defense attorney Max Harrison said that Mazalic was abused physically, emotionally and sexually as a child. It's clear she has deep-seated problems and should never have been entrusted with caring for a child, he said.
"Ms. Mazalic did terrible things. You can't deny that. She knows that," Harrison said.
But he urged the judge to consider a sentence of 20 years or less.
While her actions may have been be monstrous, "I'm hoping that the court can understand that Ms. Mazalic is a human," Harrison said.
Downes said the evidence about Mazalic's background is unclear, but there is no question that she knew how she treated the girl was wrong.
"The defendant's cruelty in this case was wanton," he said.
Scott North: 425-339-3431, firstname.lastname@example.org
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