Manns could have been sentenced to life in prison. She pleaded no contest to second degree murder. The county attorney felt he had a strong case of first degree murder but knew there was a chance a jury could have found Manns insane.
Belitz’s body was found in a bathtub in his home in the summer of 2009. His body was covered in cat litter in an attempt to mask the odor. Investigators say she strangled Michael with a telephone cord while he slept.
Angela Manns walked into the courtroom as doubt lingers concerning her mental capacity. Friends and family of her son were in court to support 12-year-old Michael, among them Jacob White and his mother, Beverly along with two friends.
Jacob White says, "All I have to say is that he was my best friend since 1st grade and it's going to stay that way." Jacob read a poem in court he wrote for his lost friend, he couldn't look Manns in the face when he read it. He says, "It just gets it off my chest, the pressure"
According to Judge Mark Ashford, a line was drawn in this case, between Manns' understanding of her actions in killing her son and the possibility of her suffering from mental illness.
Charges were reduced from first degree to second degree murder earlier this year and an insanity plea was dropped. Manns pleaded no contest to that charge. It was determined she intentionally but without premeditation, killed Michael Belitz.
Chase Moffitt says, "But the defense said in a statement they released in the court, despite the no contest plea, her mental health must be evaluated and considered in the sentencing."
That included claims Manns suffered from audible hallucinations and voices told her to kill Michael and herself. Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine didn't buy it. Don Kleine says, “Certainly she made a call to H.H.S., Mr. Riley said the system failed her and she was a victim I don't agree with that assessment."
Kleine wanted a much higher sentence, Tom Riley asked for 22 to 25 years. Judge Ashford settled on 34 - 35 years, regretting he could not impose mandatory psychiatric help. For friends of Michael Belitz, it's time to move on. Beverly White says, "It's sad, it is what it is, she got what she got, we wanted life, but we can't do that we are not the judgers, we are good, we are happy, it’s over and now we can rest."
County Attorney Don Kleine says he will not appeal the sentence. Manns will get credit for the 682 days she has already served in jail. Judge Ashford says she'll be released from jail sometime in her 60's.