Grandmother sentenced to 25 to life for brutally murdering grandson

Posted at: 11/08/2013 5:32 PM
Updated at: 11/08/2013 5:42 PM
By: Abigail Bleck

SCHENECTADY -- A 44 year old grandmother, a self-described "woman of God," will spend the next 25 years to life in prison for the brutal, prolonged and tortuous beating death of her eight year old grandson, Sha-Hiim.

"It gives the family the closure it needed and it gives Sha-Hiim the justice he deserves and sends the defendant the message that that behavior will not be tolerated," said Assistant District Attorney Christina Tremante after Friday's sentencing.

Gloria Nelligan had custody of Sha-Hiim and the beating, according to the defense, was punishment after he stole a pack of gum.  It occurred at the family home on Mynderse Street during a span of twelve hours.

In court Friday, during a victim impact statement, Sha-Hiim's mother Keila Nelligan said through tears, "I feel like jail is too good for her because my baby got life." 

Nelligan, herself, never addressed Judge Karen Drago and instead her attorney read a letter she reprotedly wrote.  It was filled with quotes from The Bible and not once did it mention remorse for the killing.

One section of the Nelligan letter read, "I am sorry Sha-Hiim isn't here and I think about him every day." 

A later portion read, "I am so glad the Lord has been by my side...especially now that I am being tested and tried,"  plus, "I am right with God."

Judge Drago didn't mince words when she responded, "Before you can seek forgiveness you need to repent and I have not heard one word of repentance from you."

When asked about Judge Drago's statement from the bench, Assistant District Attorney Christina Tremante stated, "It was not a letter of someone taking responsibility or showing any remorse."

This was a bench trial and not a jury trial which means that Judge Drago found Nelligan guilty, not a panel of Schenectady County residents.