A jury has convicted a mother of abusing her foster child.
Monique James took the stand on Wednesday defending herself and her disciplining as a parent.
"I pushed her," Monique James tearfully admitted in court. "I was frustrated so I pushed her."
It was emotional testimony from the woman who claims she was born to be a mother.
"I always wanted to adopt children and to make a difference."
James says she shoved her soon-to-be adoptive daughter into some steps when she didn't obey. The defense says James was trying to discipline her child and went too far -- but not to the point of child abuse.
"She may be responsible for the push on the side but other than that she is not responsible or guilty of child abuse," said Vincent Green, James' attorney.
"We did not beat our children. We loved our children. We did not abuse them."
James testified that some of the bruising was likely caused by a couple of spankings with a belt --- but claimed ---- that punishment was her only option.
"I didn't want to do it, but I didn't know what else to do. I know that it was a form of discipline. I thought it would work."
James claims the shove was out of frustration and the harm wasn't intentional. But when the little girl got to the hospital it was a matter of life or death.
"When someone comes in that bad ..... that person could die," said Dr. Stephen Guertin, a pediatrics specialist at Sparrow Hospital.
Doctor Guertin testified that the combination of injuries indicated long term abuse.
"Three impact sites on the head; multiplanal injuries, brain injury, grip marks, butt bruises and very clear whip marks, there was abuse."
After James says she shoved the girl --- she says the child fell from a step stool while washing her hands in a bathroom.
"From a simple stairway fall you wouldn't expect her to come in dying and she was," said Guertin. "For us, we knew the child had been abused."
But Guertin says the fall and the shove were just part of the story.
James faces a maximum of 15 years on the first-degree child abuse charge when she's sentenced in November. Her lawyer tells wilx.com he may file an appeal.