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Mom is convicted of child abuse in deaths of kids left in SUV with heater running

Posted Feb 3, 2014 10:51 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Colorado woman was convicted of child abuse resulting in death on Friday in the overheating deaths of her two sons left in an SUV with the heater running.

Jurors in Grand Junction delivered a split verdict for Heather Jensen, 25, accused of leaving her sons, age 2 and 4, locked in the SUV in late November 2012 while she had sex and smoked marijuana with a man in a nearby car, report the Associated Press, the Denver Channel, the Daily Sentinel and the Denver Post. She was acquitted of criminally negligent homicide, but convicted of two felony counts of child abuse resulting in death and false reporting. The false reporting charge was based on an accusation that Jensen didn’t disclose the children were in the vehicle for 90 minutes.

In closing statements, prosecutor Rich Tuttle repeatedly used the term “roasting her children” to describe Jensen’s actions, according to previous coverage by the Denver Post. The prosecution and defense differed over how long the heater was on while the boys were left in the vehicle. The defense called just one witness, a psychologist who testified Jensen had below-average intelligence and psychological problems.

The defense portrayed Jensen as a lonely widow whose husband had died in a car crash just two months before the incident, while prosecutors portrayed her as selfish.

Jensen could face up to 32 years in prison on each child abuse count if the judge finds there were aggravating circumstances, according to the Denver Post and the Daily Sentinel.

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