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Farmington • Jasmine Bridgeman the mother of a 2-year-old boy who was allegedly killed by her boyfriend over potty training issues was sentenced to prison Monday for lying to police during the investigation.
Bridgeman, 24, of Layton, pleaded guilty in March to second-degree felony obstruction of justice.
On Monday, 2nd District Judge John Morris sentenced the woman to the maximum penalty of one-to-15 years in prison, telling her that it was the most appropriate penalty for concealing what really happened to her son.
"Your actions were as abhorrent as they are heartbreaking in light of the care expected as a parent," Morris told Bridgeman. "Essentially, what I must conclude is that you chose your boyfriend over your child's welfare."
Bridgeman admitted in court records that she gave false information to the police in May 2015 as they were investigating the death of James "J.J." Sieger Jr.
Her boyfriend, 35-year-old Joshua Schoenenberger, is charged with first-degree felony aggravated murder and second-degree felony child abuse for allegedly inflicting the fatal injuries on the boy. He pleaded not guilty to the crimes on Monday.
"I continue to pray that no mother feels the pain I feel every day," Bridgeman said in court Monday. "… May my son rest in peace and may God save my soul."
The child's paternal aunt, Nicole Sieger, spoke in court of the pain her family has experienced because of the child's death, and asked the judge to punish Bridgeman to the fullest extent of the law.
"J.J. had his family who wanted him," the emotional aunt said. "His dad was searching for him, and she concealed him. She concealed him from us and his dad just so this could happen to him."
Schoenenberger who could face a maximum penalty of the death penalty, if prosecutors choose to seek it is expected in court again on May 9. With his Monday not-guilty pleas, prosecutors now have 60 days to declare whether they will seek execution in his case.
Layton Police Detective Ryan Jeppson testified during a January preliminary hearing that Schoenenberger offered police a variety of explanations for how the toddler suffered what proved to be fatal blows to his stomach and bruising all over his body.
Schoenenberger initially told police that he had left the child alone in the bathtub for 40 minutes on May 9, 2015, and then found him facedown in the water.
The man then flipped his story, saying it was Bridgeman who had been left alone with the child.
Then, he said, it was Bridgeman who "beat" the child.
But Jeppson testified that Schoenenberger eventually admitted to police that he had inflicted the injuries, allegedly admitting that while taking a shower with the young boy, he picked him up, squeezed him hard and then dropped him.
"He was upset about, essentially, J.J. not listening to him," Jeppson testified. "[And that] J.J. was struggling with potty training."
Jeppson also testified that Schoenenberger was visibly upset as he told police that the boy, who died two days after he was taken to the hospital, had been removing his diaper and spreading feces on the walls.
"He essentially felt that J.J. was ruining his house," the detective testified.
Brooks Keeshin, a doctor at Primary Children's Medical Center, testified that he noted that J.J. had bruises on his ears, chest, abdomen, genitals and legs. He said surgeons later discovered that the child's colon had broken in one place and there was significant injury to the lowest part of the colon. He said the injuries were "consistent with significant blunt force trauma."
"It's not something we see in a normal accident," Keeshin said. "It's not something we see in falls. It's something we see in severe, violent, blunt-force trauma directly targeted at the abdomen."
Utah Medical Examiner Todd Grey testified at the preliminary hearing that he certified J.J.'s death as a "homicide," and said the child died of "blunt-force trauma to the abdomen."
The medical examiner noted that there was no finding of water in the child's lungs to indicate that he may have drowned, as Schoenenberger originally told police.
Schoenenberger was charged with aggravated murder under "Shelby's Law," a 2007 statute that allows prosecutors to seek the death penalty if a child dies during an act of abuse, sexual assault or kidnapping even if the defendant does not intend to kill the victim.
At the time of the boy's death, Schoenenberger and Bridgeman had lived together for about four months, according to charges.