A woman who beat her 16-year-old daughter with a metal ruler and tried to smother her with a pillow stood before 3rd District Judge William Barrett on Monday and said she hated "the things that happened," but also denied the abuse.
Carole Lynn Martin, 44, said she quit a job in California to return to Utah to take care of the girl after the teen's father kicked her out. Martin said she didn't want her daughter to go into foster care, and the girl was on probation for stealing jewelry.
"My ex-husband told me she was horrible to live with," Martin told the judge. "I didn't abuse her.
"I tried my hardest," said Martin, who previously pleaded guilty to second-degree felony child abuse in this case.
However, the girl and her adult brother described years of beatings and mistreatment at Martin's hands.
Barrett, in a rare move, departed from the one-year jail sentence recommended by Adult Probation and Parole, which had been agreed to by both the defense attorney and prosecutor. "Unfortunately for me, I don't understand the abuse of children, so I don't have a lot of sympathy for you," Barrett told Martin.
The judge sentenced Martin to prison for a term of one-to-15 years.
Martin originally was charged with attempted murder and child abuse, both second-degree felonies. The attempted murder charge was dropped as part of the plea bargain, and the court ordered a pre-sentence report and a diagnostic evaluation.
A West Valley City police report states that Martin beat the girl with the metal ruler on the head, back and legs, and when the girl ran into a bedroom, Martin chased her, pushed a pillow onto her face and cried out, "Stop breathing! Why won't you stop breathing, you (expletive)?"
Martin's defense attorney said Martin "has had some problems parenting" what the attorney termed "a difficult child."
Martin was drunk and suicidal after the April 14, 2007, incident because Martin knew she had done something wrong. The attorney suggested this was a one-time incident that blew up after tensions came to a head.
The girl, however, had a different tale to tell.
"This abuse has been going on for 25 years, not just with me, but with my older brother," the teenager told the judge. "This incident is one of many very many."
The girl has since lived with her grandparents and described it as the happiest year of her life.
"I do not have to wake up not knowing whether or how I'd get a beating that day, wondering whether I was good enough. I don't have to cover up bruises and marks," the teenager said.
"I don't have to worry about protecting Carole Martin anymore," the girl said, referring to the times when social workers pulled her out of classes at school to ask if she was safe. "I am done protecting Carole Martin. I'm going to protect me and me alone."
The older brother, who is not legally part of the case, supported his sister's claims that Martin has been violent toward them all their lives.
"I have seen and experienced abuse by this woman for the past 25 years," he said.
He was adopted by his grandparents at age 10, but knew what happened to his sister.
Martin told the judge that the teenage girl had pushed her on the day in question.
"I don't know what happened I just lost it. There's no way I can make it up to her.""You kind of blew it, didn't you?" Barrett said.