Amanda Lane Woodall was only 5 weeks old when her father violently beat her, leaving her critically injured until she died at age 22 in 2013.
Twenty-six years after beating his infant daughter, leaving her bedridden and fragile until her 2013 death, Anthony Shannon Lane pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
An autopsy performed in 2014 by the state medical examiner's office showed her manner of death was homicide, caused by complications of blunt force head injury.
Initially charged with first-degree murder in 2014, Lane, 46, entered the plea Friday before Circuit Court Judge David Bragg and will serve a 20-year sentence concurrent with time for a similar case in which he was convicted of severely abusing his son in Wilson County.
"My sweet Amanda's voice was taken away from her 26 years ago. Today her voice has been heard," said Nancy Woodall, her foster and adoptive mother. She took the child in when Amanda was only 3 months old and critically injured.
Lane was convicted of aggravated child abuse of Amanda in 1992 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. After his release, he was charged and convicted of aggravated child abuse of a second child, her half-brother Ryan, now 16. Lane is serving a 25-year sentence on the second conviction at Hardeman County Correctional Facility.
Throughout her life, Amanda was blind, non-verbal and had to be fed through a stomach tube. She suffered diabetic seizures as well as cerebral palsy and stayed in the same bed for 22 years.
Yet Woodall said her child was "a joy" and was loved by many people, including other foster children, friends, family and workers.
"Her life had an enormous impact on so many people and her death has had an equal impact. It's been devastating, but I'm so grateful for closure, so grateful for the opportunity to move on," Woodall said.
Woodall, who is president of the Tennessee Foster and Adoptive Care Association and has fostered 460 kids over 33 years, commended Assistant District Attorney J. Paul Newman and Rutherford County Sheriff's Detective Steve Kohler for their efforts in bringing the case to a close.
Kohler pointed toward the investigative efforts of sheriff's Detectives Chuck Thomas and J.D. Driver, now an assistant public defender, in 1991 as being crucial to making the case against Lane. The decision by Dr. Erin Carney of the medical examiner's office to rule that Amanda's death was a homicide caused by blunt force trauma was important, as well, he said.
Newman called Lane's plea significant because he is being held "accountable" for what happened more than a quarter-century ago. The assistant district attorney also said he considers it "amazing" that Woodall was able to care for someone with such disabilities.
"I think Amanda Lane Woodall represents innocence. Anthony Shannon represents ... evil. And I think that Nancy Woodall represents good, and I just hope that good will always overcome evil," Newman said.