OSWEGO, NY – Sara Landers this morning (Jan. 28) received a sentence of 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison for the death of her daughter last year.
Landers, of 216 Rochester St., Fulton, left her daughter in a closed camper trailer on a hot day last July 5.
Nine-month-old Reba died from the sweltering heat inside the trailer.
Landers, pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide, a class E felony.
She had originally been charged with second-degree manslaughter, a class C felony.
Landers left the infant, Reba Barton, inside a camper, despite the lack of a working air conditioner inside the camper, according to Assistant District Attorney Greg Oakes.
Landers stood next to her attorney, Michael Shanley, with her hands clasped behind her back.
She began to cry as the sentencing got under way.
She has showed “significant remorse,” the defense attorney said.
There were other adults at the family gathering who knew the infant was in the camper, he added.
“The most significant punishment the defendant has is living the rest of her life knowing that her actions, regardless of intent, caused the death of her daughter,” Shanley told the court.
He asked the court to consider sentencing Landers to incarnation at the Oswego County Correctional Facility and probation, instead of state prison.
“If I could change that day, I’d change it all over again,” a tearful Landers told the court. “I love my children. I just want her to be here today, I love my kids.”
There are people who probably feel (the 1 1/3 to 4 years) is not sufficient time, Oswego County Court Judge Walt Hafner told the defendant. If she was still facing the manslaughter charge, the court would consider a 15-year sentence, he added.
“What is a substantial period? I don’t know what a substantial period of time is. Fact of the matter is, you were at a party and went in the house after being around the pool for some period of time … and the (pre-sentencing) report indicates that you thought somebody else would check on your child who was in a little camper, without air-conditioning, on a 90-plus day,” the judge said.
The report noted there was no indication of any sort of communication between Landers and anyone else regarding the infant.
“You know what’s most disturbing, Miss Landers, as you say if you could change that day, you would change it. This court doesn’t really think you comprehend that,” the judge said.
Her drug of choice is marijuana, he continued. She also reportedly “experimented” with LSD, and used other drugs such as cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin, the report said.
“The report said you smoke marijuana every day. You go to bed high; you wake up in the morning high. But now, after this tragic incident, you don’t smoke that much anymore. Now you smoke once every two or three months. And, guess what? When the probation officer asked you in preparation of this report when was the last time you smoked marijuana? You smoked the day before the report was done,” Hafner said.
The case is another story of how drug use, to a large extent, contributed to a tragic death, the judge said, adding, “This court’s not sure if you’ve put that all together yet.”
“I hear that marijuana has an affect upon your memory, you tend to forget things. You forgot things alright; you forgot about your child lying in a camper on 90-plus day without air-conditioning while you’re sitting in a house watching a movie, talking and living it up! I guess it’s a fair assessment that you were high that day, seeing that’s what your life consisted of,” Hafner said. “No question you need some treatment, Miss Landers. Whether it’ successful or not remains to be seen. I suggest you use your time wisely so when you are released maybe you can stop the drug and alcohol use.”
And maybe, it would be safe someday for her to have visitation with her other two children, one of which is with the father and the other with Landers’ mother, according to the judge.
After sentence was imposed, Landers sat in the jury box crying with her head in her hands, her attorney by her side, until a corrections officer escorted her to Oswego County Jail to be processed to state prison.