Plea deal offered to Jensen
No details given in fatal abuse case
A plea offer has been made in the case of a Palisade mother accused of causing her young sons’ deaths by overheating last winter.
Thea Reiff, a public defender representing Heather Jensen, said the District Attorney’s Office formally extended an agreement her client is considering, but didn’t mention details Wednesday during what was scheduled to be a preliminary hearing before District Judge Valerie Robison.
Assistant District Attorney Rich Tuttle later declined to comment on the offer.
Jensen, whose 25th birthday last week was spent in custody at the Mesa County Jail, waived her right to go forward with Wednesday’s preliminary hearing.
The plea deal, should Jensen accept it, could be revealed at arraignment on May 30.
Jensen was arrested January and is charged with a pair of Class 3 felonies, child abuse resulting in death; two counts of criminally negligent homicide, a Class 5 felony; and one count of false reporting to authorities in connection with the deaths of her sons, William, 2, and Tyler, 4.
The boys died as a result of overheating in their mother’s Toyota 4Runner on the night of Nov. 27, 2012, on Grand Mesa. William died that night, while Tyler was removed from life support on Dec. 3. An arrest warrant affidavit alleges Jensen was having sex with a man and smoking marijuana as her boys were left alone inside their mother’s vehicle.
Mesa County forensic pathologist Robert Kurtzman ruled the deaths were accidental.
Jensen, while under investigation in her sons’ deaths, left Colorado for Florida in December in violation of the terms of her court-ordered supervision following a third-degree assault conviction in 2012. Records reviewed by The Daily Sentinel showed she’d failed three drug tests for marijuana and opiates in the months leading up to her sons’ deaths.
Mesa County Criminal Justice Services moved to revoke Jensen’s probation in a filing on Jan. 3, well after she’d left for Florida.
Robert and Diane Mathena, the grandparents of William and Tyler who battled their former daughter-in-law in a civil action to win burial rights for the boys, said they hadn’t been consulted about the proposed deal in Jensen’s case and didn’t know its terms.
“Anything that gives her something like three or four years of probation, and that’s it, is not acceptable,” Robert Mathena said after Wednesday’s hearing. “I’d like to see her do some serious time.”
Eric Jensen, 26, Diane’s son and Heather Jensen’s late husband, was killed in an October 2012 traffic accident in Garfield County.
“You’re talking about someone with no moral values,” Robert said. “I think she’s a psychopath.”
William’s third birthday would have been Friday.