A heartbreaking day in court for the family of a toddler murdered at the hands of the woman trusted to care for him. Heidi Dieball, 25, pleaded guilty earlier this year to the city's first murder of 2008.
It was an emotional 45 minutes in court, as the family of Andrew Haga, 18 months old when he died, finally had a chance to face the woman who confessed to killing him.
Athena Haga crumpled the paper on which she wrote what she would say to Dieball Wednesday. Haga instead spoke from her heart.
"I just want to know why," she pleaded.
It is a question that may never be answered. Dieball cried quietly as the family of little Andrew Haga took turns speaking. They recalled how the little boy always had a smile, was so gentle and caring, and the very light of his mother's life.
"When he first started feeding himself, we got him puffs," Haga said. "I tried one... and ever since that moment, when he was eating puffs, he'd put one in my mouth and then smile at me until I chewed it up."
Andrew died in January, the city's first murder of the new year. It was the result, prosecutors say, of severe child abuse. Dieball later confessed to 2nd degree intentional murder. She said she was angry and beat Andrew repeatedly one night until he lost consciousness.
"Every time I go home, there's nothing," Haga sobbed in court. "I kiss an urn goodnight."
Andrew's father was so emotional, he could not bring himself to be in court. Dieball is now sentenced to more than 19 years in prison. Andrew's family says it brings little, if any, comfort.
"I won't ask for specific punishments," Haga said. "I won't ask for anything, because what i want, none of you can give back to me."
As part of her plea deal, Dieball cannot appeal her conviction. When asked if there was anything she wanted to say, she quietly responded "no sir" to Judge Ben Burgess.