Life in prison without parole for foster mother accused of murdering two-year-old Alex Hill

TEXAS (WITI) -- She would have turned four years old this past Friday, November 7th. But instead of celebrating their little girl's birthday, Alex Hill's parents were in court, as a judge handed down a life sentence for murder to Hill's foster mother.

Alex Hill was killed in July of 2013, when she was just two years old.

The Houston Press reports Hill's death occurred at the hands of her foster mother, 52-year-old Sherill Small.

Hill went into foster care in early 2013, after Hill's father revealed to child welfare investigators that he had smoked marijuana while the child was in bed at night -- according to the Houston Press.

The Houston Press reports in Texas, using marijuana goes against child welfare policy, and thus, Hill's father had broken the law. This, combined with Hill's mother's frequent seizures led child welfare workers to place the little girl in foster care.

Hill's parents had concerns with the little girl's first foster home after the Houston Press reports her parents discovered bruises on the little girl, and they refused to give Hill back, despite the threat of jail time -- asking that she be placed in a different home.

Sherill Small became Alex Hill's second foster mother.

It was July 29th, 2013 when Alex Hill's father, Joshua got an urgent telephone call. Alex Hill had been hospitalized. When Joshua Hill got to the hospital, he found his daughter on life support. He had no choice but to say goodbye.

The Houston Press reports eventually, Sherill Small admitted to slamming the toddler onto the floor of her home -- but she said that was an accident that occurred when she was playing a game with the girl.

Ironically, the Houston Press reports an investigation into Sherill Small and her husband, Clemon Small revealed Clemon Small had a criminal history -- including multiple drug charges for marijuana. Additionally, the Houston Press reports in the couple's foster care application, Clemon Small described himself as a "recovering crack cocaine addict."

Not only that -- a third-party agency that provides foster homes to the Texas Child Protective Services system was found to have more than 100 “deficiencies,” or violations of standards, at 56 of its foster homes.

Alex Hill's autopsy revealed she died when her head struck the floor so violently it led to hemorrhaging -- and that autopsy also revealed Alex Hill suffered bruising throughout her body.

Sherill Hill was convicted of a capital murder charge, and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

CLICK HERE for much more on this story via the Houston Press.

CLICK HERE to access the Justice 4 Alex Hill Facebook page.