Montana News

Feb 9, 2013 2:02 PM by Victoria Fregoso

Hardin woman sentenced to prison for death of 3-year old foster child

COLUMBUS - Lavonna Bird was sentenced to 20 years in the Montana State Women's Prison, with five of those years suspended, on a charge of negligent homicide in connection with the death of 3-year old Jaren Wayne Blacksmith.

Bird, 51, appeared before Judge Blair Jones in Stillwater County District Court on Friday afternoon.

In December, Bird pleaded guilty to negligent homicide; she admitted that she left Blacksmith in a locked vehicle on August 17, 2011, a day when temperatures reached 93 degrees.

Bird claims she didn't plan on leaving Blacksmith in the vehicle for an extended amount of time that day. She said she went inside of her home, became ill, and fell asleep.

Bird's attorney, Jennifer Streano, requested that Bird be sentenced to 20 years, with all time suspended.

Streano brought up concerns about Bird's health and her need for medication throughout the day for diabetes and high blood pressure.

Because of this, Streano said prison isn't the best place for her.

During the sentencing, Bird apologized for the child's death and said she loved him very much.

The child was under the foster care of Bird for about a year before he died.

Before announcing her sentence, Judge Blair Jones said, "This is a tragedy of unspeakable proportions."

He also spoke about society's need to protect others who cannot protect themselves.

Friends and family members of Bird filled the courtroom and said their good-byes before Bird was taken away by Sheriff's deputies.

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