RIVERTON (WNE) — Public comment following a probationary sentence for a mother whose baby had 13 broken bones prompted deeper explanation from the Fremont County Attorney’s Office.
Assistant Fremont County Attorney Ember Oakley prosecuted the case against Kylen Jenkins, 22, whose months-old baby was seen by medical personnel in February of 2019, and found to have broken bones, malnourishment, and a nasal cyst.
Oakley wrote in a Nov. 20 letter to The Ranger that the child’s injuries were indicative of child abuse.
“In this case, as in all, there are unique factors,” compromising a prosecutor’s ideal level of proof for achieving a desirable sentence, which in this case would have been several years in prison.
“The defendant (was) out on an unsecured bond and being allowed to attend medical appointments with the foster family and DFS (The Department of Family Services), against my objection,” Oakley wrote.
What Oakley found most troubling about the prospect of going to trial, is that DFS is required by law to pursue “reunification” of parent with child.
Any chink in the limited evidence available in the case, she’d noted at Jenkins’s sentencing hearing, could have compromised the trial and placed mother and child back in the same home. “It was important to secure the conviction so that the case could move forward in the best interests of the child,” Oakley wrote.
The prosecutor noted further that she faced the ultimatum of pursuing the harsher sentence for the mother by going to trial, or ensuring the baby boy’s distance from her by settling on a felony conviction, albeit with a more lenient sentence attached to it.