updated 11/2/2005 2:01:03 PM ET 2005-11-02T19:01:03

A woman who admitted hiding the body of a 7-year-old relative in a basement storage bin was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years in state prison under a plea deal.

Sherry Murphy, 43, will not be eligible for parole for 16 years. Superior Court Judge Michael R. Casale called the case the saddest he has presided over in his nearly 10 years on the bench.

The boy's decomposed body was found stuffed in a basement storage bin and his twin and half-brother were discovered living in squalor and filth three years ago. The case generated national outrage and led to an overhaul of New Jersey's child welfare agency.

"I wouldn't have treated objects or clothes as these kids were treated," Casale said.

Murphy pleaded guilty to criminal restraint, aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child. Under the deal, a charge of attempted murder was dropped. Since she has been jailed since September 2002, her earliest parole date would be in about 13½ years.

The mother of the three boys had entrusted them to Murphy, her cousin, before going to serve an unrelated jail term.

Rough play led to death
Murphy's son, Wesley, who admitted that a wrestling move gone bad led to the death of his young cousin, Faheem Williams, was scheduled to be sentenced later Wednesday for reckless manslaughter. He pleaded guilty Sept. 27.

He said he killed the child while doing a wrestling move that included forcefully driving his knee into the child's abdomen.

"I tried to flip him on the bed, but he missed the bed and hit the floor," Wesley Murphy, now 19, said in September. "I was in shock. I ran out of the house. I think he was unconscious."

Sherry Murphy admitted finding Faheem's body on the floor of her Irvington apartment in September 2002, trying to revive him, and then leaving the corpse there for several days.

"I left him there for, like, three days, and put his body in the hamper," she testified. Murphy said she brought the plastic bin with her when she moved to Newark, where it was found in the basement in January 2003.

She also admitted she provided inadequate food and water to Faheem's twin, Raheem, and a younger half brother, Tyrone Hill.

The children's mother, Melinda Williams, has not been charged. She was freed and living in New York when Faheem's body was found.

The state had investigated abuse complaints involving Faheem, but closed the file 11 months before his body was found.

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