Air Force wife sentenced in toddler son's neglect death
Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News
An Air Force wife who admitted to letting her young son die from neglect at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in 2011 received a prison sentence Friday of two years to serve.
The woman, Jennifer Steinbrecher, 32, pleaded guilty in May to criminally negligent homicide, reduced in a plea deal from the original charge of second-degree murder. Her 17-month-old son became so dehydrated and malnourished that he passed away in November 2011.
Steinbrecher's husband was deployed overseas when neighbors called police saying they were concerned about how poorly she was taking care of her five children, including twin 17-month-old boys and siblings ages 6, 8 and 10.
The state Office of Children's Services and military social services investigated Steinbrecher, but she did not follow through with their recommendations, Deputy District Attorney Clint Campion said.
It is unclear why the children were not removed from the home, on Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson, or whether that would have been an appropriate step to take in Steinbrecher's case. A spokeswoman for Children's Services said the office is barred from talking about specific cases because of confidentiality laws.
Steinbrecher was overwhelmed and suffered from mental illness, but she also spent a great deal of time playing online video games, Campion said. Prosecutors were unable to determine what specific game or games she played, he said.
Steinbrecher called 911 because one of the twins, Aidan, did not wake up the morning of Nov. 17, 2011. Medics rushed him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Campion said.
On Friday, Judge Michael Spaan sentenced Steinbrecher to 10 years with seven suspended.
Because she has been behind bars since the child's death, Steinbrecher will likely be released sometime in the next six months, Campion said. Her other children are living with their grandparents in New York, he said.
Court records show Steinbrecher and her husband divorced in 2012. It was unclear why the husband did not seek custody of the children, Campion said.