updated 5/25/2006 4:57:33 PM ET 2006-05-25T20:57:33

A woman who beat to death a 2-year-old girl she had adopted from a Siberian orphanage was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in prison.

“’I’m sorry’ doesn’t even come close. ... That’s the way I feel,” Peggy Sue Hilt told Prince William Circuit Judge William Hamblen before he imposed the sentence.

Hilt, 34, of Wake Forest, N.C., told police she had failed to bond with her newly adopted daughter, Nina, and flew into a rage June 30 when the girl wouldn’t stop crying. She repeatedly punched, kicked and stepped on the child, who died the next day.

Hilt pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in March. The 25-year term exceeds the sentencing guideline range of 12 to 21 years.

“This child did not die from a single blow. Her injuries were the result of a course of conduct over an extended period of time,” Hamblen said, calling Hilt’s actions “completely inexplicable.”

The fatal beating occurred in Hilts’ North Carolina home. The next day, after she and her husband had traveled to Manassas for a family trip, Hilt called 911 to say the girl had stopped breathing.

Hilt’s attorney, William Stephens, said his client had been prescribed medication years ago to treat depression but had stopped taking it. She also was an alcoholic who hid her drinking from her husband and family, he said.

Stephens said Hilt cannot appeal because the sentence was handed down as part of a guilty plea.

Nina was adopted by Peggy and Christopher Hilt to join another girl, now 5, who had been adopted from the Ukraine. The girl has been removed from the home.

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