STwo South Carolina women were sentenced to life in prison for murdering a three-year-old boy in 2009, according to the prosecutor, who said on Friday that the punishment was appropriate for their crime.

Erika Mae Butts and Shanita Latrice Cunningham, both 25, were sentenced to life in prison by a Charleston court on Thursday, two years to the day after Serenity Richardson, 3, perished in their care.

They accepted responsibility for the crime in August.

“It is nearly impossible for words to accurately describe what these women did to that poor little girl,” said Elizabeth Gordon, assistant managing solicitor for Charleston County.

“They beat her repeatedly both with a belt and with plastic coat hangers. You can see the outlines of the strikes on this child’s body. There is not one area of this child’s body that was unharmed except for the soles of her feet.”

Serenity was visiting Butts and Cunningham, her godmother and mother’s lover, for two weeks at their home in Summerville, South Carolina when the abuse occurred, according to Gordon.

According to her mother, Ieshia Richardson, Serenity was born in Detroit.

“The explanation they gave (for the beatings) was that Serenity had a potty accident,” Gordon said. “Their explanation is ‘we didn’t know what we did would kill her.’”

“They knew what they did was wrong,” Gordon said.

When Serenity became unresponsive on November 3, 2009, “they put bleach under her nose and they put ice on her to try to revive her,” Gordon said. Butts called her own mother, who called 911.

Gordon stated that the youngster had been dead for a long time when medics arrived.

She went on to explain that this was the worst case she’d ever seen in her four years of prosecuting crimes against special victims.

“In most of the homicide-by-child-abuse cases, somebody made a bad decision one day. (Butts and Cunningham) made a decision every single day that they were going to beat that child.”

In 2009, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway at the US Department of Health and Human Services, 1,770 children perished as a result of maltreatment or neglect. According on the department, most researchers believe that the number of child abuse fatalities is underestimated. The majority of cases involve youngsters between the ages of 4 and 6 years old.

There are many children in the world who are abused. Some might get hit with belts or have their hair pulled. Others might have bleach put on them or ice. Many of these children will not survive the abuse because they are hit so much that it can kill them.

=>If somebody sees somebody being abused, they should tell an adult about it so that person can help stop the abuse from happening any more.

=>If a child is being abused, they should be able to tell an adult about it because that could help save their life from the abuse.