A Shamong Township man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for killing a 1-year-old child in 2013 who was being fostered by his girlfriend, Burlington County Prosecutor Robert D. Bernardi announced Thursday.

(Photo: Burlington County Prosecutor's Office)
(Photo: Burlington County Prosecutor's Office)

According to the sentence handed down by Judge Charles A. Delehey, Steven R. Donaldson, 32, must serve 17 years of the term without the possibility of parole, under the state's No Early Release Act.

According to authorities, Donaldson was convicted in November of killing Claudia Nunes while he was caring for her in his girlfriend's Cinnaminson Township home on Feb. 12, 2013. When the incident occurred just before 8 p.m., Donaldson’s girlfriend, who was serving as the little girl’s foster mother, was at work.

The prosecutor said that Donaldson called 911 and stated that Claudia was not breathing. Police and emergency crews arrived but their attempts to revive the child - who turned 1 the day before - were unsuccessful. She was taken to Kennedy University Hospital in Cherry Hill, where she was pronounced dead.

Authorities said that Donaldson claimed the baby fell and hit her head on the floor as he was preparing to change her diaper, but the report by the Burlington County medical examiner told a different story. Medical Examiner Dr. Ian Hood determined that Claudia's cause of death was "blunt force trauma to the head."

"Dr. Hood testified during the trial that Claudia’s injuries included a fractured skull, brain swelling and bleeding," the prosecutor said in a press release.

On Nov. 19, 2015, following a five-week trial, a jury found Donaldson guilty of aggravated manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child. He is still facing a separate charge of drug possession stemming from an incident that took place on Oct. 29, 2015. At that time, NJ State Police went to his home to question him about a hit and run accident that took place earlier in the day. During the investigation, they found suspected heroin and drug paraphernalia in his vehicle and in his possession.

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