A New Jersey mother will spend the rest of her life in prison after beating her 23-month-old son to death, burning his body, hiding the remains, and claiming someone kidnapped him.
Nakira Griner, 28, was sentenced on Tuesday to life without the possibility of parole for the charge of first-degree murder, the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office said. She also received seven years consecutively for a count of second-degree desecration of human remains.
Jurors convicted her in January for these charges, also second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, fourth-degree tampering with evidence, and second-degree false public alarm.
Griner’s life sentence was mandatory because her son Daniel was less than 14. She previously turned down a plea deal for 30 years behind bars. Her attorney reportedly said Griner did not “knowingly and purposefully cause Daniel’s death.
On Feb. 8, 2019, Griner called 911 several times, saying a man attacked her while she was pushing Daniel in his stroller on the way to a deli, according to a report from New Jersey news outlet The Daily Journal. She also said she had the child strapped to a holster on her chest and reportedly told cops that the attacker repeatedly kicked her while she was on the ground and then took Daniel and the stroller, and he ran.
In a recording of one of the 911 calls obtained by NJ.com, the dispatcher reportedly had trouble understanding a frantic Griner.
“I’m really trying to understand you, but it’s really difficult while you’re crying,” the dispatcher said. “Try to take a deep breath, slow your breathing down and tell me what’s going on so I can help you.”
“I’m hiding,” she told him.
“Who are you hiding from?” the operator asked before Griner ended the call.
The dispatcher called back, and Griner told the story about being attacked.
Griner’s story changed over time during the search for Daniel. She failed a polygraph test. Authorities searched the family’s home. Investigators found Daniel’s burned and dismembered remains, which had been stuffed in his mother’s purse and buried under a backyard shed. He was burned so severely that it was challenging to figure out what happened to him immediately, a prosecutor said.
An autopsy concluded that Daniel’s death was a homicide caused by blunt force trauma. The report noted that the child had suffered multiple bone fractures.
Griner admitted that she hit Daniel because he “would not eat nor listen to her,” NJ.com reported, citing a criminal complaint.
Griner made calls from jail in which she said that Daniel suffered his injuries by falling down the stairs and that she “did what she did to him” to cover up the bruises on the boy’s body, prosecutors said.