Jail Time and Probation For Couple Accused Of Caging Child
Two people accused of keeping a seven-year-old boy in an outdoor cage last summer were sentenced in Albany County District Court today.
Jena Harman and Alexander “George” Smith each pleaded guilty to one count of Felony Child Abuse and one count of Felonious Restraint in January. In exchange for their guilty pleas, each defendant had two charges of Felonious Restraint dropped.
The couple was accused of the abuse after officers discovered a seven-year-old boy in an outdoor cage in July 2014.
District Court Judge Wade E. Waldrip, who is from Carbon County, sentenced 32-year-old Jena Harman and 38-year-old Alexander “George” Smith to suspended prison sentences of three to five years.
As part of the suspended sentences, Smith and Harman will each serve 12 months in the Albany County Jail followed by five years of supervised probation. Harman will receive 175 days of credit for time she has already served, and Smith will receive 272 days of credit for his time served.
In addition, Judge Waldrip told Harman that she will be required to enroll in a treatment program after her year in jail is complete. She is also required to pay restitution for the funds put forward by Medicaid in order to care for the child. Restitution owed by Smith, if any, will be determined at a later date.
During Harman’s sentencing, Ross McKelvey from the Public Defender’s Office in Cheyenne said that there truly was no good answer as to why a mother would keep her own child in an outdoor cage. He said the best explanation was that Harman was recently diagnosed with Dependent Personality Disorder. McKelvey argued that the disorder made it difficult for Harman to express disagreement with others and made her more willing to tolerate mistreatment and abuse.
McKelvey said that Harman has been attending counseling and has even attended some counseling with the victim in this case, who is her seven-year-old son.
McKelvey asked Judge Waldrip to sentence Harman to a suspended prison sentence with a long-term probation.
Harman spoke on her own behalf, apologizing for her actions. She said she was moving forward and trying to be a better person and mother.
“My child doesn’t deserve any of those things that happened,” she told Judge Waldrip.
Prosecuting Attorney Kurt Britzuis told Judge Walrip that this was a crime that “shocks the conscience” and asked for the maximum penalty the court was comfortable giving.
“Miss Harman has deserved to hear the door slam shut behind her and serve some real prison time,” Britzius said.
During Smith’s sentencing, Defense Attorney Tom Fleener told the judge that the child was not continuously kept in the cage and was allowed out on occasions. He said that Smith was a man who had made poor decisions and blamed himself for what happened to the child.
Smith spoke at the hearing, echoing Fleener’s statement that he took the blame for the crime.
“I’m the one that took Jena and her son to live with me, and taking care of them was my responsibility,” he said.
He told Judge Waldrip that he dishonored those who care about him, and he apologized for what happened.
“I do not expect or deserve mercy,” he told the judge.
Britzius told Judge Waldrip that Smith was the “driving-force” behind the crime who had behaved “as a monster”, and that he deserved the maximum penalty the court was comfortable sentencing.
“The simple fact of the matter is, but not for Mr. Smith, we would not be here,” Britzius said.
Judge Waldrip said that he simply could not find any explanation for the human conduct in the case.
“I am baffled by what happened to this child,” he told Harman.
He echoed the thought at Smith’s sentencing.
“I can find no justification in this file for your actions,” he told Smith. “You harmed a special needs, seven-year-old child simply because he was inconvenient.”
Harman and Smith were both taken into custody to serve their jail sentences immediately following the hearing.