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Oct 22, 2013 12:02 AM by Sean Mooney

Foster mother convicted in death of Emily Mays learns sentence

TUCSON- It took more than eight years, but a foster mother convicted of child abuse in the death of a Tucson toddler was sentenced on Monday.

On August 24, 2005, 16-month-old Emily Mays died from a brain injury caused by blunt force trauma.

The child's foster parents Penny and Randall West claimed the baby hit her head on a changing table. In 2008, Penny and Randall West were found guilty of child abuse.

A judge later overturned that conviction saying the jury didn't have enough evidence. But Penny West's conviction on "child abuse likely to result in death with criminal negligence" charges were upheld in March 2012.

After never having served a day in jail for her involvement in the baby's death, Penny West was sentenced to four years probation. The probation sentence also included six months of incarceration at the Pima County Jail.

West's attorney, Howard Wine, contends that because a jury never found his client guilty of causing any of the injuries the baby died from, the sentence is too harsh, "The prosecutor and the judge ultimately believed that they could figure out what was in the juries mind and on account of that Penny received at hefty sentence."

Emily May's aunt, Laura Jones, says to have Penny West answer for her role in the child's death has finally brought some closure to her family, "I feel she should of gotten prison time, but jail time will work."

Howard Wine says it's not over yet, "My position on her behalf and her position is that she is not guilty of any offense and we will appeal."

While the appeals may go on, Laura Jones, who adopted two of Emily's three siblings, says she believes Penny West's sentence represents more than a price paid for her niece's death, "We got some kind of justice, maybe it will help change the way the laws are, the way the court system works."

Penny West's lawyer asked that she be allowed to work outside of the jail while serving her six month sentence but the request was denied.


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