OGDEN — More than three years after an 8-month-old child died in her care, a former child care worker from Roy was sentenced Wednesday in 2nd District Court.
Tisha Morley, 37, was given a sentence of five years to life in state prison for one count of child abuse homicide, a first-degree felony.
The sentence Morley received is the state minimum for those convicted of a first-degree felony.
On May 16, a jury found Morley guilty of felony child abuse homicide in the 2014 death of 8-month-old Lincoln Penland.
The jury determined that Morley deliberately shook the 8-month-old and slammed his head on a changing table out of frustration, causing blunt force trauma that led to his death after a week in the hospital.
Morley appeared in court in front of Judge Scott Hadley and was accompanied by her two attorneys, Logan Bushell and Jason Widdison. For the prosecution, Letitia Toombs and Branden Miles appeared on behalf of the state.
Bushell argued Morley had no risk of reoffending and asked for a sentence of one year in jail with no credit of time served.
This sentence the defense requested would be below the state minimum for first-degree felonies, but Bushell cited a line in the state code that allows judges to give a lighter sentence if the defendant meets a certain criteria.
Toombs rebuffed this statement and requested Morley be given the sentence recommended by Adult Probation and Parole. This recommendation was the five years to life sentence she was ultimately given.
“Murderers go to prison,” Toombs said. “She stands before you as a convicted child killer, and that conviction warrants prison.”
Morley herself was allowed to give a statement during the hearing and expressed remorse to everyone in the courtroom, including the parents of Lincoln Penland.
“If it wasn’t for me, they (the Penlands) would have their child, and my kids would have their mom,” Morley said. “To say I’ve failed them is an understatement.”
Both of Lincoln’s parents were in court Wednesday and gave statements before the sentencing.
Alesha Penland, Lincoln’s mother, described the agony her family has dealt with since her child’s death. She also talked about how her family went trick-or-treating on Halloween with two children instead of three.
Also during her statement, Alesha Penland showed two photos to the court: one of Lincoln and one of a family photo taken last month.
The recent family photo featured one of her children holding a photo of Lincoln.
Chris Penland, Lincoln’s father, spoke about the emotions he has faced following his son’s death.
“You gave Lincoln the death sentence, but you gave everyone in this room the life sentence,” Chris Penland said to Morley.
Even after over three years of court hearings and police statements, both of Lincoln’s parents expressed they will eventually forgive Morley for killing their child.
During the hearing, Alesha Penland read a quote that was sent to her from a friend, one that she referred to again outside the courtroom.
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free, and to realize the prisoner was you,” she said. “ I will forgive you (Morley) because I know Lincoln already has.”
The next court hearing in the Morley case will be regarding restitution. The hearing is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 11 in Ogden.