Tiffany Van Alstyne gave a tearful apology in Albany County Court Thursday morning for taking the life of her 5-year-old cousin Kenneth White.
Judge Stephen Herrick followed with Van Alstyne's agreed-upon sentence: 18 years to life in state prison.
The judge also outlined exactly what Van Alstyne did. She strangled her 5-year-old cousin, hid his body and led police in the wrong direction, preventing any possibility that Kenneth could be saved.
"You have destroyed your future as well as Kenneth's," the judge said. "It is a tragedy because this never should have happened. It never should have happened."
In her statement to the court, Van Alstyne, 20, said she loved Kenneth and his surviving sisters and "every day that goes by it kills me to know what I did."
"Kenneth was my little buddy and he will always be in my heart," Van Alstyne, 20, said fighting back tears. "I am so, so sorry for what I did and what happened to Kenneth. I wish I could take it back, but I can't."
Van Alstyne pleaded guilty in November in Albany County Court to second-degree murder. In exchange, she received a sentence of 18 years to life.