A Tuesday sentencing for a Roy day care worker convicted of child abuse homicide for the 2014 death of an 8-month-old boy was delayed after the woman's lawyers asked a judge to set aside her conviction.
In May, a jury convicted 36-year-old Tisha Lynn Morley of first-degree felony child abuse homicide for the February 2014 death of Lincoln Penland, who was fatally injured while at Morley's in-home day care.
She was scheduled to be sentenced this week in 2nd District Court, but the hearing was postponed after her attorney, Logan Bushell, filed a motion asking the judge to set aside the verdict and enter a conviction of the lesser offense negligent homicide, a class A misdemeanor.
Morley faces up to life in prison for the charge she is convicted of. If the judge grants her attorney's request, she could face a maximum penalty of a year in jail.
In court papers, Bushell argues that there was not enough evidence presented to convict Morley of the first-degree felony, and he accused prosecutors of misconduct after they did not disclose they had planned to call parents of one of the children who was at the daycare to testify. The judge barred attorneys from calling the parents — who were listed as defense witnesses — as witnesses, according to Bushell.
Bushell said the testimony of the parents was critical to their defense, which was rooted in the testimony of a then-3-year-old girl who told investigators that she saw Lincoln's brother inflict the fatal injuries by slamming the child's head in a door. If her parents had testified, Bushell argues, it could have bolstered the girl's credibility to jurors.
Lincoln suffered devastating injuries on Feb. 19, 2014, while staying at Morley's in-home day care. The infant's skull was fractured, both arms were broken, and his brain and spine also sustained injuries.
Prosecutors accused the woman — who was the only adult at the home that day — of grabbing the infant by his arms and slamming his head and body on a changing table. They pointed to a cracked changing table that had Lincoln's vomit on a strap as evidence that the woman caused the injuries.
Attorneys are expected to argue the latest motion in September.