Killer of baby gets 15 years, at most
Cody Barrow stomped out of the courtroom. Teresa Lopez sobbed and Emma Curtis fumed
The Salt Lake Tribune
Those were the reactions of Casey Barrow's father, mother and great-grandmother to the prison sentence his killer received Monday morning.
Jeannette Ilene Gomez, Casey's foster mother, was sentenced to prison for as long as 15 years by 3rd District Judge Michael Burton. The other end of the sentence -- a minimum of one year -- had the family irate.
"I have a hard time understanding how someone can get one to 15 years for stealing and someone can get the same thing for killing a kid," said Curtis, Barrow's maternal great-grandmother. "The system stinks."
That sentence was the most severe Burton could hand down under state guidelines for second-degree felony child abuse homicide, to which Gomez, 31, pleaded guilty.
On Oct. 22, Casey was flown to Primary Children's Medical Center after Gomez called police because the 18-month-old boy wasn't breathing. A day later -- with severe brain swelling and his spinal cord separated from his brain stem -- Casey was pronounced dead.
Gomez later acknowledged she caused the fatal injuries. It was the first time since 1996 that a foster parent was accused of killing a child placed in her home by the state.
Casey and his then 4-year-old sister, Kaylee, had been foster children in Gomez's home twice since the state's Division of Child and Family Services found traces of methamphetamine in Casey's hair in February 2003. Lopez was fighting to regain custody.
Prosecutors contend that, while the child was in her care, Gomez snapped and killed Casey.
"She took out her frustration on him," Langdon Fisher, an assistant district attorney, said, arguing Gomez should go to prison. "She shook him and threw him to the ground twice."
It's a moment Gomez, a stay-at-home mother and college student with no criminal history, says she wishes she could take back.
"I never expected something like this to happen," Gomez said. "I would give anything to change it."
But the reasons offered for Casey's death have never appeased the family.
"We can't forgive you for what you've done," said Leona Rehburg, Casey's great-aunt. "We don't have the chance to see him grow up. To see the man he will become."
Casey's parents, Lopez and Cody Barrow, declined to comment.
"I hope she rots," Curtis said. "She gets something to look forward to. She's going to get her children back. We don't get Casey back."