NURSE GETS 40 YEARS IN GIRL'S DEATH

Relates to:
Date: 1992-03-19

JUDGE CITES CRUELTY 2-YEAR-OLD ENDURED

Darrell Glover

A Bothell-area nurse practitioner convicted of beating her 2-year-old adopted Korean daughter to death was sentenced yesterday to 40 years in prison for what the judge called "extreme cruelty."

Noreen Erlandson, 39 ((age)), was given the exceptionally long sentence by Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Joseph Thibodeau after he denied her motion for a new trial for alleged juror misconduct.

"I can't imagine the pain this child endured over the last week before she died," Thibodeau said.

He said Kayla Erlandson had a lacerated liver, burned arm and 65 bruises, including a number to the head. Paramedics found her unresponsive at her parent's home April 24, and she died two days later of a head injury.

Thibodeau said the court must speak up on behalf of children. If Kayla could, he said, she would say "I can't come back" but don't let this happen to other children.

"This was a beautiful young child" and a "special gift to the Erlandson family," the judge said.

Thibodeau held up a stack of letters from supporters of Erlandson and said he was struck by the denial that the beating death had even happened.

Erlandson was convicted Feb. 17 of second-degree murder after a three-week trial. The standard sentencing range is 10 to 13 years, but deputy prosecutor David Hiltner recommended 50 years because of the deliberate cruelty.

The judge ordered Erlandson to jail immediately, denying defense attorney David Allen's request that she be allowed to remain free on bond or her personal recognizance during an appeal.

Allen called Erlandson's sentence "life without parole."

Earlier, Allen asked for a new trial based on the alleged misconduct of several jurors.

One juror was said to have driven to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport during a weekend break in deliberations to test the time it took Erlandson's husband, Douglas, to drive home from the airport the night Kayla was found unconscious.

The judge had warned jurors not to seek their own evidence.

Yesterday Thibodeau ruled there was "no legal or factual basis to grant a new trial" and said he was satisfied the drive and experiment didn't take place.

Another juror was said to have failed during jury selection to reveal details of child abuse in her family but revealed that fact during deliberations.

Thibodeau ruled that what the woman was talking about - her child being struck three times in the face by her husband over a period of time - didn't constitute child abuse.

In another case, a juror allegedly discussed an earlier report of child abuse involving Kayla that was investigated by Child Protective Services and talked about how the Erlandson's adopted Korean son, 4, was removed from the home after Kayla's death.

Thibodeau found jurors said they didn't hear the discussion or if they did it was after the verdict.

Allen said he is confident a new trial will be granted on appeal because of the alleged juror misconduct.

"I'm very disappointed we didn't get a new trial," Allen said after Erlandson was led off to jail yesterday, "because we didn't get a fair trial."

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