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Baby Sitter Gets One Year In Jail !

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Baby sitter gets one-year sentence

MURRIETA (AP) - A baby sitter whose pit bull fatally mauled a 2-year-old girl was sentenced to one year in prison.

"It's astonishing to me that people would keep certain types of pets around children," Superior Court Judge Albert J. Wojcik told Jackie Star Batey, 30, on Friday.

Somer T. Clugston was killed by a pit bull on June 20 at Batey's home in rural Good Hope. Investigators say Batey had left Somer and her year-old brother with several of her own children while she left to run errands.

"The mere fact you put the girl and others in danger means you are not a good mother. You're an awful mother," the Riverside County judge said.

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Woman gets year in jail for dog-mauling death

Jackie Star Batey gets a hug from her attorney, Heather Moorhead, as she is handcuffed after being sentenced to one year in county jail.

By: JOHN HALL - Staff Writer

FRENCH VALLEY ---- Emotions flowed from all sides Friday as a woman was sentenced for the dog-mauling death of a Murrieta toddler she was baby-sitting in June.

Jackie Star Batey, 30, was sentenced to one year in county jail, the maximum sentence possible under an agreement reached in October when she pleaded guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter.

Somer Clugston was mauled to death by a pit bull puppy named "Baby Boy" at her Phillips Road home in Good Hope on June 20.

Somer's parents were separated at the time and still are. Her father, Jason Clugston, had made arrangements for Batey to baby-sit while he was at work.

Batey left Somer and four other young children ---- the oldest being her 12-year-old son ---- alone at the home while her husband, Marco, slept after coming home at 5 a.m. from a 12-hour work shift. She left with one of her daughters to drive another young girl she was baby-sitting to school and to run errands.

Batey gave an emotional apology to Somer's family for the first time publicly Friday as she addressed the judge.

She turned to the family, clasped her hands together, and tearfully told them three different times how sorry she was about what happened.

Members of Somer's family fought back their own tears as they told the judge why they believed Batey should get the maximum sentence.

Somer's mother, 23-year-old Sarah Serrano, talked about how she'll never be able to see her baby grow up and get married. "I've been robbed of that," she said.

Linda Collinsworth, Somer's grandmother, told the judge she can't even look at little girls anymore with out thinking of Somer and hates to hear children crying, "because I don't know if Somer cried out" when she was mauled.

Collinsworth's son, Justin, said the family "lost a very precious little girl who we'll never get back again."

Before the sentence was announced Friday, Batey's husband and defense attorney Heather Moorhead pleaded with the judge to not send Jackie Batey to jail.

While addressing the judge, Marco Batey wept while holding his wife close to him with his left arm.

"It wasn't her fault," Marco Batey said, adding that he and his wife "lay in bed every night ... asking why and asking for forgiveness."

He told the judge that they are very sorry for what happened to Somer. "This woman doesn't deserve jail time," Marco Batey said.

Jackie Batey's attorney became emotional as she tried to explain to the judge that there is much more to her client than seen in the police investigation or probation officer's report.

Moorhead said that the Bateys were not able to directly apologize to Somer's family while the case against Jackie was pending because they were advised by attorneys not to.

"Many times she wanted to talk to those people in the courtroom," she said.

Moorhead told the judge that the Bateys have lost their home and Jackie has threatened suicide because of what happened. The attorney stressed that Batey has been remorseful since the beginning and takes the blame for Somer's tragic death.

"She pled guilty to a charge that tells the world: 'I am responsible,'" Moorhead said.

Jackie Batey has since started to get her life back on track, Moorhead said, getting a job at Wal-Mart last month and the Bateys voluntarily sent their children to other homes because the family was not yet stable.

Moorhead asked the judge to sentence Batey to community service where she could do some good.

"... putting Ms. Batey in jail will do no one any good," Moorhead said.

Deputy District Attorney John Monterosso countered to the judge that there was "no way" he would accept Batey being a victim in this case.

He said Batey was well aware that the dog was dangerous and still allowed it to roam the home freely.

"This is a dog that surprises not one person in our society when it bites someone," Monterosso said.

He called Batey "reckless, self-centered and callous," and asked for the maximum sentence.

Before announcing the sentence, Judge Albert Wojcik pounded his fist and told Jackie Batey this was "an extremely tragic event; an event that simply should have never happened."

Wojcik called it was "bewildering" that people keep pit bulls as pets and that Batey would leave a 2-year-old unattended.

Saying he based his opinion on his review of the case and a probation officer's report, which included interviews with Batey and others involved, Wojcik called Batey "callous and uncaring."

After quoting a portion of the probation report in which Batey says: "Honestly, I think I have been punished enough," Wojcik looked at Batey and said, "Wake up and smell the coffee."

In another part of the report, Batey tells the probation officer that she is beginning to think she is a bad mother. Wojcik jumped on that comment and told Batey this "makes you an awful mother."

He then announced the one-year jail sentence, along with a number of terms of probation Batey must follow for three years after her release. They included no contact with the victim's family unless preapproved by the Probation Department, that she can't work in child care including baby-sitting, she must attend a child abuse treatment program, and can not possess or own any dogs or other fierce or wild pets.

After the sentencing, Somer's mother said the outcome "helps a little tiny bit."

Serrano said that while she believes that time will help heal her emotionally, "the thoughts of Somer and the heartache will never go away."

Linda Collinsworth said outside the courtroom that it hurts to see anyone punished but that Somer paid the ultimate price.

Batey's sentence gives the family some closure, Collinsworth said. "Now I can go see Somer (at her gravesite) and tell her justice was done," she said.

After the hearing, Monterosso said that, although he is pleased Wojcik sentenced Batey to the maximum term, "this is a case where nobody wins. Nothing good comes out of this."

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[quote]Bewildering eh? You know what is bewildering...that there are people in this world as IGNORANT as you for saying that. I HATE to break this to you but ANY dog is capable of killing a young child. I read a story about a Dachshund mauling a child. A 2 year old child should definately not under ANY circumstance be left alone with ANY dog. Once people get that through their thick skulls it would solve a LOT of problems.[/quote]

Well said...

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