Vanderlinden Sentence ‘Beyond Disappointing’ and ‘a Travesty’ According to Attorney General Sean Reyes
By Kristin Forbis, Jul 31, 2020
Reported on Thursday, July 30:
The sentencing of Lisa Jo Vanderlinden on Wednesday in 8th District Court is garnering a strong reaction from many, including Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. Vanderlinden pleaded guilty to 1st Degree Felony Child Abuse Homicide in the 2018 death of her 2-year-old foster child. State prosecutors had argued that Vanderlinden be sentenced to the maximum sentence of at least 5 years to life in prison. Instead, 8th District Judge Samuel Chiara sentenced Vanderlinden to 1 year in jail, probation, and a $10,000 dollar fine. Following the sentencing, Attorney General Sean Reyes issued the following statement: “A young child is the most vulnerable victim imaginable. The Court’s decision is beyond disappointing. It's a travesty and undermines the confidence of the public in our justice system’s ability to protect kids from abuse and homicide. As prosecutors, we achieved in the plea deal just what we would have at trial, a first degree felony minus the cost of trial and without having to traumatize other children as witnesses. The plea deal in no way limited the Court’s power to sentence in a way that would serve justice. The Court absolutely could have sentenced Ms. Vanderlinden to serve five years to life, consistent with what we sought and what the pre-sentencing report recommended. Probation for a first degree felony is almost unheard of. We are at a loss as to why the Court ruled the way it did. We understand that it's in the sole discretion of the Court to decide the sentence. While we respect the legal process, we don’t have to agree with the outcome.” Evans Family Media and BasinNow.com will have a follow up report concerning a civil suit filed this week in 8th District Court by the 2-year-old victim’s biological parents against the Vanderlindens, the Utah Department of Human Services, and Utah Division of Child and Family Services.