A Las Vegas woman who pleaded guilty to felony child abuse for not providing her chronically ill son with proper medical care before his death was sentenced Tuesday to a year in jail.
Lena Anderson was initially charged with murder following the 2009 death of Patrick Atkins, 15, who suffered from a chronic kidney disorder since he was 4.
During the final weeks of Patrick’s life, he was vomiting, fatigued and missing school, authorities said. When Anderson sought treatment for her son she didn’t tell doctors about his chronic kidney disease, Las Vegas police said.
Anderson’s lawyers maintained the Western High School student stopped taking medicine because it made him ill, and he wanted to be a normal boy.
District Judge James Bixler said he understood Anderson was frustrated and tired of fighting with her son, but she should have told hospital staff the truth about his condition.
Anderson didn’t speak but sobbed throughout the hearing.
Bixler sentenced Anderson to five years of probation, with the first year spent at the Clark County Detention Center.
“Somebody’s dead,” and there has to be a message sent, the judge said.
Bixler allowed Anderson to remain free on bail through the holidays, but she must turn herself in on Jan. 4.
Prosecutors asked for eight to 20 years in prison, but deputy public defender Dan Silverstein argued Anderson was punished enough by the loss of her son.
Silverstein said the teen would not want to see his mother imprisoned because it was his decision to stop taking medicine. Locking up Anderson, a productive member of society, only wastes taxpayers’ money and takes a mother away from her other son, he said.
According to her arrest report, Anderson told Las Vegas police that Patrick didn’t like taking the medication, so she stopped giving it to him.
Authorities said Anderson, who had no prior criminal record, willfully withheld treatment though she was repeatedly warned it would lead to Patrick’s death.
Long before his death, authorities had concerns about Patrick’s well-being. Child Protective Services was called five times over 10 years to investigate claims that he wasn’t properly cared for.