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2-year-old taken away from parents because they used marijuana, killed by foster mother

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Cameron Texas- A 2-year-old was killed while in foster care, and her foster mother will now serve a life sentence for the crime

Alex Hill was placed in foster care after her father admitted to using marijuana according to the Houston Press.

Joshua Hill told Texas child welfare investigators that he smoked after the child was in bed at night.  A case worker determined that the father’s marijuana use and the mother’s medical condition (frequent seizures) warranted removal from the home.

The toddler had appeared healthy and happy with her parents, but she was placed into the foster care system in early 2013.

On Tuesday Alex’s foster mother, Sherill Small, was sentenced to life in prison for the July 2013 death of the little girl, who would have turned four on Friday.

Alex’s parents, Joshua Hill and Mary Sweeny, had reported bruises on their child during visitations, but were never told about Small’s numerous violations.

Four months before Hill was set to regain custody he received a call that Alex was in the hospital.  Small admitted to police that she had slammed the child onto the floor, saying it was an accident.

Alex’s autopsy revealed several bruises all around her body, and a medical examiner stated her head hit the floor so violently that she had “subdural hemorrhaging, subarachnoid hemorrhaging, and retinal hemorrhaging in both eyes,” according to court testimony.

What may be one of the most frustrating parts of the case, Sherill Small’s husband that lived in the home while Alex was there, was himself a recovering crack cocaine addict and admitted to multiple drug charges.

The couple admitted this information during the home study portion of their foster application, but their home was still considered a “safe environment.”