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Utah County Jail
Colby Glen Wilde, 29.

AMERICAN FORK — A father who admitted giving drugs to his newborn daughter so that she wouldn't show signs of withdrawal in the hospital has been sentenced to prison.

Colby Glen Wilde, 29, was sentenced Tuesday to up to 15 years in prison for distribution of a controlled substance, a second-degree felony, and up to five years for child abuse, a third-degree felony. Fourth District Judge Roger Griffin ordered that the prison terms run concurrently to each other, but consecutively to any other sentences.

Wilde pleaded guilty to the charges as part of a plea deal in August, while additional counts were dismissed, including two more counts of second-degree felony child abuse, child endangerment, and drug and paraphernalia related charges.

Wilde originally faced the same charges as his common-law wife, Lacey Dawn Christenson, 26. Her case is ongoing with a hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

Police say the parents feared that the baby girl born to them April 9 was born with an opiate dependence. In order to hide signs of withdrawal, they mixed crushed suboxone pills with water and applied it to the baby's gums, according to charging documents.

Suboxone is a prescription pain medication used for pain management and for addiction treatment.

Following the couple's arrest, two of their children living in the home also tested positive for methamphetamine in their system, court documents state.

"The health of the three children has been seriously impaired and all have required ongoing medical care," police wrote in the charges.

A monthlong investigation into the couple began June 26 when police say Wilde attempted to pull items from shelves in a Walmart store and then return them to the store for money.

As Wilde tried to flee, carrying his infant daughter in a car seat, police say he ran into the store's sliding glass doors and then a pillar, twice dropping the seat. As bystanders tried to stop Wilde, he allegedly handed the car seat with his child in it to a stranger and ran to his car to escape. He was arrested soon after.

Christenson, who was in the store with her three boys, ages 8, 4 and 2, was arrested on an outstanding warrant.

Prior to the sentencing, a paternal grandmother of Christenson wrote to the judge, saying that separating the family would be "wrong" and "emotionally costly."

"Lacey has always been an attentive mother and Colby a caring father. The children were always provided for and loved dearly. The house was clean and food was abundant," the grandmother wrote.

She went on to describe years of hard work by the parents to establish a stable home for their children, including numerous birthday and holiday parties with their extended families.

"Until about a year ago you wouldn't have met a better couple of parents. I am not sure what brought about the desire to try heavy narcotics," the woman wrote, speculating that perhaps Christenson's C-sections and Wilde's health problems could have been a catalyst.

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Since her arrest, the woman said that Christenson is "regaining more of her loving old self," pledging not to give up on her. Grandparents are currently caring for the couple's children, the grandmother wrote, in hopes that they may eventually be restored to their parents.

"I pray you will see this is not a time to punish them," the grandmother told the judge. "They have already punished themselves in so many ways, not to mention losing their children, the home they helped to build and any self-esteem they once had."