An Ohio woman shook and wept as she was sentenced Thursday to 15 years to life for beating her mother with a frying pan and stabbing her more than 20 times after her parents found out she was kicked out of college.
Judge Kelly McLaughlin gave 23-year-old Sydney Powell the minimum allowed under the law for the brutal killing of Brenda Powell, 50, over the objections of Summit County prosecutors who pushed for the maximum of 18 years to life.
Her attorney, Donald Malarcik, blasted prosecutor Brian Stano for pushing for the most severe penalty when her family had begged for leniency and testified on her behalf.
"The wishes of the victim are trampled upon yet again, I find [it] appalling," he told the court.
He noted that Sydney was out on bond for 3½ years before she was found guilty last week of murder, assault and tampering with evidence.
She had an impeccable record of complying with her mental health treatment and never missed a dose of her medication, he said.
The attorney wrapped up his remarks by reading a letter from a doctor at Akron Children's Hospital, where Brenda worked as a child life specialist for nearly 30 years, saying that the slain mom would have wanted "Sydney's continued treatment for her mental condition in the least restrictive environment possible."
The defense had argued at trial that Sydney suffered from untreated schizophrenia and was in the midst of a psychotic break when she attacked her mother March 3, 2020, in their Akron home.
She had been kicked out of the University of Mount Union for poor grades but hid the secret from her parents for months. When they learned the truth, Sydney snapped.
Brenda was on the phone with school officials when Sydney bludgeoned her with a cast iron skillet, then retrieved a steak knife from the kitchen and stabbed her more than 23 times, according to prosecutors.
Stano argued that after the murder, Sydney broke a window and claimed an intruder had entered the home and attacked her mother.
This showed she had the presence of mind to stage the scene and undermined her insanity defense, he told jurors.
"There is a large part of the community that does feel that justice was served in this case and that the jury did get it right," he told the judge in Summit County Common Pleas Court.
Sydney, wearing an orange jumpsuit, spoke only once during the brief sentencing hearing. "Yes," she replied in a trembling voice when the judge asked whether she needed a free attorney to represent her in her appeal.
Her father, Steve Powell, and grandmother were in court to show their support for the young woman. Sydney is eligible for parole in 15 years.