It appears the mother who told police she killed her 5-year-old daughter and asked her husband to hide the body in the family's Jackson Township restaurant plans to plead guilty Friday.

The Stark County Prosecutor's Office on Thursday issued a news release saying Mingming Chen, 30, will be sentenced to 22 years in prison and then be deported. Officials with the prosecutor's office said the release was emailed early by mistake.

Chen has a final pretrial hearing scheduled for Friday morning in Stark County Common Pleas Court. She is charged with murder, two counts of endangering children, obstructing justice, tampering with evidence and gross abuse of a corpse.

Chen and her husband, Liang Zhao, 34, reported their daughter Ashley missing on the evening of Jan. 9. They told police they hadn't seen Ashley in several hours and that she went to take a nap in a back room of their Portage Street NW restaurant, Ang's Asian Cuisine.

Overnight and the next day, law enforcement agencies searched the area near the Strip before finding Ashley's body concealed in the restaurant. Court documents obtained by The Canton Repository say Zhao agreed to a polygraph test but then told investigators his daughter was dead, not missing, and told them he put the girl's body in a crawl space above the walk-in cooler.

During Chen's interview with police, she repeatedly said she didn't know what happened to Ashley and asked to speak with her husband. She then told investigators she killed Ashley and that she hit her with her hand at their home. Chen said Ashley was a difficult child who didn't listen and who only had lived with her and her husband in Ohio for a little more than a year.

Court documents say Ashley suffered blows to the head and torso and that she was abused on multiple occasions from the time she moved in with her parents until she died.

Chen's attorney this fall filed a motion arguing Chen's interview with police shouldn't be allowed to be used in court because Chen didn't have the English language skills needed to understand her rights. He also wanted to pursue a not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity defense.

The case was scheduled to go to trial in a month.

"Taking into account the pending deportation issue along with some complex evidentiary issues in this case, the State believed the best resolution was to resolve the case to guarantee that Ming Ming Chen would spend significant time in prison for her actions that resulted in the tragic death of young Ashley," according to the release from the prosecutor's office.

Zhao in September pleaded guilty to two counts of endangering children, tampering with evidence, obstructing justice, and gross abuse of a corpse. As part of his plea agreement, the murder charge he faced was dropped, and he agreed to testify against his wife at her trial.

He has not been sentenced but is expected to be sentenced to 12 years in prison and will be able to apply for early release after six years. will have full coverage of Chen's hearing ?Friday.

?Alison Matas is a staff writer for The Canton Repository.