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So sad.:( Child abuse.

Posted by on Apr. 19, 2010 at 10:57 PM
  • 2 Replies

A former foster mother convicted of killing a 2-year-old girl who had been placed in her care was sentenced Monday to 32 years in prison.

Jules Lynn Cuneo, 36, sat sobbing and shaking through much of her dramatic sentencing hearing, during which the court heard for the first time excerpts of baby-monitor recordings of Cuneo torturing Alizé Vick, who died Oct. 10, 2007, of a closed head injury.

Cuneo faced between 16 to 48 years in prison after a jury found her guilty in February of child abuse resulting in  death. Cuneo also faced another four to 12 years in prison for reckless manslaughter.

Alizé’s mother, Ashley Lindenberger, 22, cried out, “Are you kidding me?” when her daughter’s killer didn’t receive a longer sentence.

“It is a mid-range sentence, which is sometimes the best you can ask for,” said Dennis Hartley, Cuneo’s defense attorney.

Cuneo declined to make a statement before her sentencing.

Because she was convicted of a violent crime, she will have to serve 75 percent of her sentence before she becomes eligible for parole, according to a Colorado Department of Corrections spokeswoman.

“This is one of the saddest and most tragic cases I’ve ever presided over,” said Judge Larry E. Schwartz. “From the very beginning, this little baby had the cards stacked against her.”

El Paso County’s Department of Human Services had taken custody of the child and her younger brother and entrusted them to Cuneo after both their parents had been jailed.

The recordings played by prosecutors Stephanie Cusick and Debbie Pearson on Monday were taped by Cuneo’s neighbor, who had secretly recorded the abuse on a baby monitor. The neighbor sent copies of the recordings to the El Paso County Department of Human Services in May 2007, but the neighbor’s efforts to help the child were rebuffed by social workers.

On the samples of the recordings, which were enhanced by communications engineer Dave Thomas, Cuneo is heard repeatedly saying, “Alizé, use your words,” “Alizé, what are you going to say? Jules. Please. Get. Off. Me.”

The child, who repeated the phrase word for word but couldn’t string the sentence together on her own, screamed and cried throughout the recording.

Alizé’s maternal grandparents and other family members got up and left the courtroom halfway through the recording.

Cusick read letters from Cuneo’s 10-year-old twin daughters, who wrote that their mother had put tabasco and vinegar in their eyes and on their tongues and burned their cheeks with heated metal tongs. One of the girls said Cuneo sat on her until she passed out and pushed two TVs on her back; the other girl said her twin sister was shoved down the stairs for saying, “I love you, Daddy.”

Hartley called the letters “the cruelest thing” he’d seen in his 38-years practice and claimed the children had been manipulated into providing the letters.

Several people spoke on behalf of Cuneo, including Gary Gibson, a minister at Central Christian Church, where she was a regular volunteer in the children’s ministry.

Cindy Will, who became Cuneo’s legal guardian in Cuneo’s last years of high school, said the prosecution left many questions unanswered and appealed for the lightest possible sentence.

“Jules does not belong in prison,” Will said. “Jules is not the monster the media and the prosecutors have made her out to be. Tragically, a child under her supervision died. But none of us were there.”

Cuneo’s friend Jennifer Perkins told the court that Cuneo showed her how to be a good mom.

Alizé’s death was among the cases that sparked the Department of Human Services to initiate what it called a “best practices review” to change the way it handles allegations of abuse in foster homes, county officials said. A supervisor now reviews any allegation of child abuse, including photographs, videotape, audiotape or other relevant information. And the three person team that reviews child-abuse complaints investigates all allegations involving a foster home within 24 hours.

by on Apr. 19, 2010 at 10:57 PM
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by on Apr. 19, 2010 at 11:02 PM

Until the laws change and their is an instant life sentence or death penalty (or as I would prefer it, public lynching and torture) there will be no justice for these victims. It's sickening.

No child should suffer at the hands of your selfishness. Put them first before your own needs. THINK before you act. Love them unconditionally and protect them and they will return the favor tenfold. RIP Dominick, Caylee and to all the innocent victims of abuse. You will never be forgotten and one day justice will be served. To my sweet boy Conor Wade, you are my sun, my moon, my stars. You are the light in a sometimes dark world. I am your protector and I will keep you safe through the ends of time. I love you with all of my heart.

by on Apr. 19, 2010 at 11:07 PM

God, how sad :(

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