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Local woman pleads guilty to child neglect charges

June 26, 2012
By DAVID ALEXANDER - Staff Writer ( , Times-Republican

The woman who pleaded guilty Monday to leaving her 18-month-old daughter unattended for several hours resulting in the toddler's death faces up to 10 years in prison.

Kristen Hernandez, 23, pleaded guilty to two of the charges against her - neglect of a dependent, a Class C felony, and child endangerment, an aggravated misdemeanor, said Ben Stansberry, assistant county attorney.

The court dropped the two remaining charges against Hernandez: another count of each for also leaving her 3-year-old son unattended.

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Police arrested Hernandez and her mother, Ruth Sharer, in November 2011 at the home they shared with the children. Sharer faces two counts of child endangerment.

An autopsy was unable to determine the cause of death on the toddler, police previously said.

Stansberry said, as part of her plea agreement, Hernandez admitted if the case proceeded to trial, the state would likely be able to prove she knowingly exposed her daughter, Destiny, to a hazard and created a substantial risk of harm to her son.

Hernandez's lawyer, Public Defender Aaron Siebrecht, said he may seek deferred judgment with a term of supervised probation. Stansberry said the state will not resist such a request.

A Class C felony is punishable by up to $10,000 in fines in addition to the imprisonment. Hernandez is also responsible for all court costs associated with her charges.

Judge Steven Oeth is scheduled to sentence Hernandez Aug. 6.



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