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Young Mother Gets 12 to 40 Years for Kicking Death of Daughter, 2

June 5, 2017

Contact: Gregg Shore, 215.348.6202, gdshore@buckscounty.org

Kayla Moore
        Kayla Moore

A young mother who kicked her 2-year-old daughter to death last year in Falls Township was sentenced today to serve 12 to 40 years in state prison.

Kayla Moore, 24, pleaded no contest to third-degree murder in the fatal assault on Athena Wolfe on April 25, 2016. Moore had lost her temper over the toddler’s behavior and kicked the girl repeatedly, inflicting fatal wounds to her head and body.

The girl was airlifted to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she died the next morning of blunt force trauma.

Moore initially lied to investigators about her actions, concocting a story that Athena had hit her head on a door after a ball was thrown to her. Investigators later learned that Moore flew into a rage because of her daughter’s frequent tantrums and savagely assaulted her.

The child appeared to be malnourished, but showed no signs of prior assaults. Moore had no previous criminal record.

Bucks County Common Pleas Court Judge Rea B. Boylan called the crime “an horrific assault. The blows that are described are vicious.”

First Assistant District Attorney Gregg Shore, who prosecuted the case, said the toddler suffered injuries to her head, back, shoulder, neck, spine and pancreas, some of which could have proven fatal on their own.

Shore said Athena also was extremely short and thin for her age and that she had to share the only bed in the apartment with her sister while her mother slept on the floor. Moore also has an older son living with his father in western Pennsylvania, and had given a fourth child away shortly after its birth.

In a victim-impact statement read in court by Shore, the victim’s great-grandmother urged Boylan to show no mercy to Moore.

“I’m sure that if Athena could have, she would have pleaded for mercy from her mother when she was kicking and beating her,” the woman wrote. “But she was too little and defenseless to stop her mother from doing the unthinkable.”

The great-grandmother wrote that she could not attend the hearing because she was haunted by Athena’s death and could not bear to see Moore again. “And what upsets me the most is that it all could have been avoided if Ms. Moore had only asked for help,” her letter said.

Defense attorneys presented a psychological report on Moore that, while not disclosed publicly, indicated that Moore had grown up in “great deprivation” and was “not nurtured in her life,” according to Boylan.

Moore told Boylan she could not find the words to properly express herself, but apologized to her surviving daughter, “who has had to suffer because of my callous actions.” She added that she was “embarrassed, ashamed and heartbroken.”

After Moore at one point described her crimes as careless actions, Shore reacted strongly.

“Careless actions are my son leaving his sneakers out in the hallway last night where I almost tripped over them,” he said. “Careless actions are not kicking and battering your child to death.”

Shore noted that a psychologist had compared Moore’s makeup to an eggshell, vulnerable to even minor upheaval.

“The slightest amount of outside stress will shatter the egg,” Shore said in arguing for a lengthy sentence. “We cannot allow her to cause further destruction.”

Boylan said she was concerned that Moore seemed unable to accept full responsibility for murdering her child.

“She spoke a great deal about wanting to go home to her other daughter,” the judge said. “No recognition was given of the suffering she imposed.”

In addition to the 12 to 40-year prison sentence, Boylan ordered Moore to undergo mental health treatment in prison.

The case was investigated by the Falls Township Police Department and the Bucks County Detectives.

Approved for release by Robert D. James, Deputy District Attorney.

Office of the District Attorney
Bucks County Justice Center
100 N. Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901 
Phone: 215-348-6344 
Fax: 215-348-6299

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