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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The foster mother of Casey Barrow has been sentenced to one to 15 years in prison for the death of the 18-month-old child.
The sentence imposed on Jeannette Ilene Gomez, 31, on Monday by 3rd District Judge Michael Burton drew an angry reaction from the child's great-grandmother.
"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 Emma Curtis. "The system stinks."
The sentence was the most severe that Burton could hand down for the second-degree felony child abuse homicide charge to which Gomez had pleaded guilty.
On Oct. 22, Casey was flown to Primary Children's Medical Center after Gomez called police because the boy wasn't breathing. He was pronounced dead the following day.
Gomez later acknowledged she caused the fatal injuries.
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. His mother, Tereza Lopez, had been 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," Assistant Salt Lake County District Attorney Langdon Fisher said in arguing for a prison sentence. "She shook him and threw him to the ground twice."
Gomez, a stay-at-home mother and college student, said, "I never expected something like this to happen. I would give anything to change it."
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)