Takara Juntunen, the mother of a murdered toddler, has been sentenced to 20 years with the Montana Department of Corrections.
Juntunen, 23 years old, was sentenced Thursday morning in Flathead District Court.
She pleaded guilty in October to felony negligent homicide for the death of Forest Groshelle.
Juntunen admitted she knew her boyfriend, Brandon Newberry, was on meth when she left her two-year old son with him.
Autopsy results show that Groshelle died from blunt force trauma after being left with Newberry, who is now serving a 40-year sentence in the Montana State Prison.
Juntunen was sentenced to 20 years in prison, with 15 of the years suspended.
- Information from Nicole Miller and Melissa Rafferty included in this report.
(APRIL 19, 2016) An Evergreen man was ordered to spend the next 40 years behind bars at the Montana State Prison for his role in the death of a 2-year-old toddler.
The courtroom was filled with family of defendant Brandon Lee Newberry and relatives and friends of Forest Groshelle killed more than a year ago.
No one more emotional on the stand than Forest’s grandmother Cindy Juntonen. “Well first you need to drop to your knees and ask God’s forgiveness,” she said.
Juntonen went on to describe her feelings when officers told her just how horrific the injuries that Newberry caused to Forest really were.
“He was hit in the abdomen," Juntonen said. "They explained it to us like it was a gunshot wound. That’s how they, that’s how hard the force had to have been to separate his intestines.“
Court records indicate that Forest Groshelle had suffered from a lacerated intestine for several days causing him to go septic and that his injuries were consistent with abuse.
Forest’s aunt, Kayla Johnson spoke at sentencing Tuesday as well: “You are a vicious monster. And for the sake of your child and other children I hope that you never get out and I hope that the judge gives you the strictest sentence that the law allows her. And personally, if it were up to me, you’d get the death sentence because that is exactly what you gave to forest was the death sentence.“
Following her statement to the court, Johnson refused to answer questions by Newberry’s defense team insisting that she was done with the matter.
Cindy Juntonen told Newberry that excuses like depression and anxiety were no answer for his actions: “My thoughts are why? Why, why would he do this? I have thought long and hard about this and it doesn’t matter. If you’re depressed, on drugs, have anxiety, you either have it in you to hurt or kill a child. I know many people in my family and friends that have the same scenarios depression or anxiety and no one would ever hurt a child."
After three witnesses by the defense, including a childhood school aid, a psychologist over the phone and a tearful and heartfelt testimony by Newberry’s aunt, Judge Heidi Ulbricht pronounced her sentence, one that both sides agreed with.
“It was your abuse that you inflicted the fatal blow to Forest in such a way that it caused him to pass,” Ulbricht said.
Judge Ulbricht sentenced Brandon Newberry to 40 years with no parole restrictions other than he get counseling for his issues before being able to seek parole.