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At an emotional sentencing, a call for redemption
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At an emotional sentencing, a call for redemption

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At her sentencing, Monica Adams began reading a statement she’d prepared, speaking about her regret and her hope for forgiveness.

“I also hope that I can get help, because I need help,” Adams said, starting to cry uncontrollably, her hand, covered with a plastic glove, slipping up over her masked face. “I need help.”

Adams, 22, pleaded guilty, along with her then boyfriend Hezile Frison, 37, to hiding the death of their 2-month-old daughter Jalisa and disposing of her body in a weedy empty lot. Jalisa’s death came to light when a relative who had allowed Frison and Adams to live in her home reported the baby missing to police.

The couple at first lied to police about the baby’s whereabouts — as they had earlier lied to relatives in Kenosha — then admitted Jalisa had died in what may have been a co-sleeping or crib death. They said Frison had placed her body in a bag and left her in a field. Adams has been in custody since her arrest on Aug. 15, 2019.

Jalisa’s body was never found, although police found the bag Frison described in the lot. The bag appeared to have been ripped apart by an animal. The actual cause of Jalisa’s death is unknown.

The relative who reported the baby missing to police, Frison’s sister Sparkle Diggins, began to cry as Adams wept. Earlier, in her own statement to the judge, Diggins said it was up to him to decide whether Adams deserved a prison sentence. “I don’t hate you. I pray that God (makes) the best decision for you, because I know that you have good in your heart,” Diggins told Adams. “I know you do, but you have to take accountability for what your part is … That would let Jalisa’s spirit be at peace.”

At the sentencing, both the prosecution and defense described Adams as a young woman with a “spotless record” who grew up in a supportive, stable home and never had even a traffic ticket until her arrest.

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Defense attorney Angela Komp said Adams had been an honor student, a cheerleader, and had started college after graduating high school. Komp said Adams was a 19-year-old student when she met and began dating Frison.

“He was in his mid 30s and dating, literally, a teenage girl,” Komp said. “Ms. Adams’s life was taking one trajectory and she meets Mr. Frison and it takes a turn. She meets him, becomes pregnant, drops out of college, experiences homelessness.”

Although Diggins stated that Adams and Frison appeared to be in love and that there was no sign that Adams was afraid of him, Komp said that the age difference gave Frison power. She suggested that the couple made the decision to hide Jalisa’s death because Frison had absconded from probation and would have been taken into custody if they had called police to report the death.

Assistant District Attorney Jason Zapf argued at the sentencing that Adams should be sentenced to prison. She had pleaded guilty to hiding the corpse of a child, providing false information about a missing person and obstructing police.

“This all could have been averted if there was an innocent explanation for the death of Jalisa if they had just called police immediately,” Zapf said. “Instead what we had was a series of ever-increasing lies.”

Judge Jason Rossell decided against sentencing Adams to prison, saying she had already spent 13 months in custody. He withheld sentence on the two felony charges, placing her on four years probation. If she fails on probation and is revoked, she would be returned to Rossell’s courtroom and could be sentenced up to the maximum prison time, up to 7½ years for the hiding a corpse charge.

“I’m hoping you have hit rock bottom in your life, I hope that you can get whatever you need to move forward,” Rossell told Adams. “You are described by the PSI and your father as someone who had hope and promise ... it’s now time to exercise that potential, and not because you owe it to yourself or to Ms. Diggins or to your father or mother. You owe it to Jalisa.”

Frison is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 14.

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