A former school principal who starved her severely disabled daughter to death had "suffered enormously" and should not be jailed, her lawyer says.

In urging a judge to impose a suspended term, Angela Puhle's barrister Bill Boucaut SC said she had lost everything including the daughter she had loved and to whom she devoted much of her time.

However, prosecutor Sandi McDonald argued against a suspended term, saying Kyla Puhle, who weighed just 12 kilograms when she died at the age of 27, "was literally starved to death".

Puhle, 57, faced a sentencing hearing on Friday in the South Australian Supreme Court.

She has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Kyla at the family's Adelaide home between October 1, 2010 and March 19, 2011 by neglecting to adequately feed and care for her.

Puhle was originally charged with murder, as was her teacher husband Harry Puhle who took his life days after their arrest in December 2011.

Kyla, who died from a lung infection and dehydration, was profoundly intellectually disabled, completely immobile and was totally dependent on others for care.

In the months before her death, her parents took her out of the care facility she attended daily and kept her at home alone.

Mr Boucaut said while Kyla's malnourishment and dehydration would have been obvious to health professionals, it was simply not obvious to Puhle who had psychological problems.

Puhle had suffered enormously, having lost her job, her beloved daughter and her husband, whom she had loved despite his being a difficult person, Mr Boucaut said.

"She devoted herself to her daughter for many years and she now has to suffer the label of being somebody who has, in effect, brought about her daughter's death," he said.

Ms McDonald agreed the case was very tragic and that people could not help but have sympathy for Puhle.

But she said the case was underpinned by the value put on a person's life and Puhle's neglect of her daughter had not been a momentary lapse but extended over a period of time.

The removal of Kyla from daycare prevented anyone having access to her except her parents, she added.

Puhle will be sentenced at a future date.