It was a sentencing hearing with plenty of drama to begin with.

The judge called the photos of the four-year-old victim’s injuries “just sickening,” and pronounced them “nothing less than a form of torture.”

Judge Frank Fregiato sentenced 25-year-old Devan Redman of Neffs to the maximum–eight years in prison — for one count of child endangerment that Redman had admitted to.

The judge read from the medical report, detailing bruises, burns and scratches to “her face, arms, hands, abdomen, back, genitalia and legs.”

Redman declined to speak when she was given the opportunity, but the defense briefly put on a character witness, who said Redman took her in when she had no one, saying she “never let anyone down.”

At that, Judge Fregiato inquired incredulously, “She never let anyone down? Is that what you said?”

Shannon Rubright of McKeesport repeated her statement, but said Redman “always seemed to end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

In the midst of the hearing, a woman spoke from the back of the courtroom, “Devan, tell ’em that you didn’t want to do it! Tell ’em! Tell ’em what you told me.”

The judge asked the woman who she was, and she said she was Redman’s mother.

He said she could speak if attorneys for either side wanted to call her as a witness, but otherwise told her to remain quiet.

At the end of the hearing, after Redman was led out of the courtroom, the judge himself spoke out, and said he was struggling with an issue that he finally just had to bring up.

He questioned why the little girl’s mother chose to hand her over to the two Neffs women for almost a month in the first place.

“That strikes me as extraordinarily odd,” Judge Fregiato said. 

“We understand where the court is going with that,” answered Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Flanagan. “Without disclosing things that we have had conversations about.”

In the end, the judge urged the prosecution not to answer at this time, but to look into that question, and he added one more additional question.

“Where in the hell was the father?” he demanded. “Where in the hell was the father!”

After the hearing, Vince Gianangeli, director of Belmont County Job and Family Services, said it was the worst case of child abuse his agency has seen. 

He said, with tears in his eyes, that the little girl has demonstrated a resilence that has inspired everyone who dealt with this case.

The child is now safe, Gianangeli says, and is living out of this area with her mother and grandmother.