The mother of a 5-month-old baby killed in 2005 admitted Tuesday that she endangered the child by failing to report suspicious injuries, a plea that came days after the baby's father was convicted of first-degree murder.
Brandi Mae Hendrickson pleaded guilty to one count of child endangerment, a misdemeanor, in connection with the death of Risha Lafferty. Asked by District Judge Paula Martin what made her guilty of the crime, Hendrickson said she left both her daughters in the care of their father, Jay D. Decker, even after she found injuries on Risha.
"My youngest child lost her life through my decisions that I should have not made," said Hendrickson, who was 24 at the time of her arrest earlier this year. "My youngest paid the price, and I am going to also."
Hendrickson testified that after she began working in late summer 2005, she left her children in Decker's care at their apartment at Edgewood Homes, 1600 Haskell Ave.
When Risha turned up with bruises and other injuries, she testified, Decker told her they were from accidents - for example, that he tripped while carrying the baby and fell into the wall one day, or that he grabbed her as she fell off the couch another day.
At one point, Hendrickson said, she was prepared to take the baby to the hospital but didn't.
Risha died in October 2005 with a skull fracture, signs of being shaken and more than 30 bruises or external injuries on her body.
Hendrickson initially was charged with a felony but agreed to plead to the lesser charge in exchange for testifying against Decker. He was convicted last week at a jury trial and faces 20 years to life in prison, despite his attorneys' attempts to implicate Hendrickson in the death.
Hendrickson's attorney, Kay Huff, said her client wanted to be sentenced before January, when there is a hearing scheduled on whether Hendrickson will be able to keep custody of the couple's surviving daughter.
Martin scheduled the sentencing for Dec. 14 and alluded to the possibility that Hendrickson might face jail time. She can receive up to a year in jail under state law.
More about the case
- 6News Video: Brandi Hendrickson makes a plea
- 6News video: Jury convicts father of murdering infant daughter
- Father convicted of infant's murder (11-18-06)
- Interrogation shown in child-abuse trial (11-16-06)
- Opening statements given in infant death trial (11-15-06)
- Trial underway in baby's death (11-13-06)
- Judge to rule on witness issue in infant's murder (10-27-06)
- Police interview stalled first murder trial (10-06-06)
- Judge declares a mistrial in murder case (08-04-06)
- Disputed injuries key focus in trial (08-03-06)
- More about the murder of Risha Lafferty