Sharon McDonough leaves family court in Central Islip after her...

Sharon McDonough leaves family court in Central Islip after her hearing in November. (Nov. 23, 2009) Credit: James Carbone

A Selden woman Thursday admitted torturing and killing two family pets and slapping her 1-year-old child in a home that a prosecutor called "a real-life house of horrors."

Sharon McDonough, 44, is expected to be sentenced next month in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead to the maximum of 2 years in prison. She pleaded guilty Thursday to a 13-count indictment charging her with animal cruelty and child endangerment.

With credit for the 15 months she has been in jail since her arrest and time off for good behavior, McDonough may complete her sentence in May, said her attorney, Christopher Brocato of Central Islip.

Prosecutors said McDonough raised six daughters - now 2 to 14 - in a house filled with the stench of dog feces and forbade them from using showers and toilets.

"The defendant's home was a real-life house of horrors," Assistant District Attorney John Cortes said.

The children were removed from McDonough's home in November 2009 and their custody is the subject of a separate Family Court case. The status of that case could not be learned Thursday because Family Court cases are confidential.

In a statement, District Attorney Thomas Spota supported the 2-year sentence for aggravated animal cruelty, a felony, but said punishment for child endangerment, 1 year in county jail to be served concurrently, is inadequate.

Child endangerment, which is a misdemeanor, "should be a felony punishable by imprisonment in an upstate correctional facility," Spota said.

McDonough spoke little in court. She sobbed while reciting the names and birth dates of her children.

Answering "yes" to a series of questions posed by Cortes, she admitted to abusing the family's dogs and a cat in incidents dating back five years.

McDonough acknowledged choking to death a Maltese dog in front of her 10-year-old daughter in June 2006. In November 2009, she said, she slammed a cat named Cinderella against a wall, covered its mouth with duct tape and hanged the cat from a bunk bed ladder until it died.

In November 2009, McDonough said, she slapped a daughter, then 1 year old, and shouted profanities to stop the child from crying.

Brocato said McDonough struggled to raise her daughters and a grown son, Doug, 22, after her husband died several years ago. He said she pleaded guilty to spare her children from testifying against her. "She's tormented by this," Brocato said.

McDonough is scheduled for sentencing on March 28.

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