Telling the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole that she shook the child she was convicted of killing apparently made the difference for a day-care worker hoping to get out of prison early.
Jerri Sue Teuscher will be paroled in March 1999 after spending six years in prison for killing 3-month-old Richard "Rocky" Christensen in December of 1992.At Teuscher's second parole hearing last month in Gunnison, she admitted for the first time since Christensen died that she shook the infant.
She said earlier in the day, she'd dropped the baby and he hit his head on the floor of a play pen. Later, she said she checked on him during a nap and he wasn't breathing.
"When I found (the baby) not breathing, to get him to breathe, I shook him," she said. "It was an accident."
Teuscher, 50, ran a day-care facility out of her Sugar House home and said at last month's parole hearing she didn't know shaking the baby could kill him. She said she was finally able to admit shaking the child because of a psychological evaluation, which made her face things she previously couldn't.
But even her new-found candor doesn't quite fit the theory of medical experts who testified at her trial in 1993.
At her trial, two medical experts told a jury they believed the only way Christensen could have sustained the injuries he did - a broken neck and bleeding in his eyes and brain - were if she held him by his head and shook him violently.
Christensen's parents sued the state for failing to tell parents who hired Teuscher as a baby sitter that two other children had been injured while in her care, one fatally. The suit was dismissed because of governmental immunity.
Teuscher has, however, lived an "exemplary" life in prison, board officials noted at her hearing.
The mother of five girls is planning to move to Georgia and remarry. Under the conditions of her parole, she's not allowed to have contact with children under the age of 12 without another adult present.
The board also approved her move to Georgia if she can work out something out with Georgia's parole department.
Christensen's parents were not at her parole hearing last month, but they did send the board a letter, the contents of which are not public.
Convicted of manslaughter in the Christensen baby's death, Teuscher could have spent another nine years behind bars.