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Sandra Yi Reporting Prosecutors today dropped felony kidnapping charges against Barbara and Daren Jensen. The couple and the state have been embroiled in a battle over treatment for their son, who was diagnosed with cancer.
Daren and Barbara Jensen held hands and smiled as they stood before a judge and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge. That plea was part of a deal that brings the criminal part of the case to an end.
Daren Jensen: "Oh, we feel great."
A brief reaction from Daren Jensen, moments after striking a plea deal with prosecutors. The couple today pleaded guilty to misdemeanor custodial interference. In exchange, the state dropped felony kidnapping charges filed after the Jensens took their son out of Utah to avoid court ordered chemotherapy. As part of the deal the judge agreed to drop the lesser charge in a year, if the Jensens stay out of legal trouble.
Blake Nakamura, Jensens' Attorney: "The reasons why the Jensens have done this is because fundamentally, they never had any concerns or problems with the judicial system here in the state of Utah. They understand why the DA filed these charges."
Kent Morgan, Salt Lake County District Attorney: "The district attorney's office feels that in this case, that it has underlined the importance of the respect for the laws of the state of Utah and the orders of the juvenile court. By acknowledging the fact did violate the law that satisfies justice in this case."
The plea deal comes after child welfare authorities decided they will not take Parker away from his parents or force chemotherapy on an unwilling child.
Twelve-year old Parker was diagnosed with Ewings sarcoma in May. Four doctors have confirmed that diagnosis. All of them have recommended chemotherapy. This weekend the Jensens said they would continue to monitor Parker's condition and seek alternative treatments. In an interview with KSL Radio today, Daren Jensen said those plans are already underway.
Daren Jensen: "We've already picked out and had picked out the hospital by which we want to take him. And we will still proceed toward that."
The Jensens will appear before a juvenile court judge next Wednesday to discuss treatment options for Parker. The Department of Child and Family Services and the Guardian Ad Litem may also make some recommendations at that time.