An Orem woman who last summer pleaded no contest to second-degree felony child abuse has been sentenced to one to 15 years in the state prison.
In sentencing Loretta May Larsen, 33, Fourth District Judge Ray M. Harding on Friday said the charges against her were "of a very gross and heinous nature." He ignored requests by public defender Jim Rupper to place the defendant on probation and incarcerate her in the Utah State Hospital.Larsen, who appeared before Harding in a wheelchair, suffers from psychosomatic paralysis, which Rupper said was caused by depression associated with court proceedings against her.
The defendant was arrested April 5 by Orem police following reports that she was locking her 6-year-old son in his bedroom and handcuffing him to his bed. According to police reports, the boy also suffered from malnutrition.
In a plea agreement reached in July, Larsen pleaded no contest to the child abuse charge in exchange for the dismissal of an additional class A misdemeanor child abuse charge. Previously, Larsen had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Despite passing a psychological evaluation at the state prison, Rupper said a prison sentence is not appropriate in light of Larsen's current condition. He said she should be sent to the state hospital for needed treatment.
Deputy Utah County Attorney Kay Bryson disagreed. He said the court should focus on Larsen's offense, not her current physical condition. He said she can get needed treatment at the prison, adding that a prison sentence would be best both for her sake and the sake of her six children.