A trial began this week for a Colorado mom whose kids died of overheating. The children died of overheating while locked in their mother’s car as she met a man for sex.
The mother is identified as 25-year-old Heather Jensen. The facts of this case are not debatable: Jensen left her sons, ages two and four, in her car with the heat on high. The boys were left alone for 90 minutes as she had sex with a man in a nearby pickup truck. With the doors and windows presumably locked via child safety features, the toddlers had no way to cool off. They died of hyperthermia, also known as overheating.
Jensen is now being hit with three charges – child abuse resulting in death, false reporting, and criminally negligent homicide. Whether she is guilty of these charges depends on who you ask. Prosecuting attorneys depict her as a selfish mother more concerned with meeting her own needs than her children’s. But defense attorneys say this isn’t the case.
Jensen’s lawyers argued during opening statements that the she is a caring mother who left the heat on in her car to prevent her boys from getting cold. Jensen lives in Palisade, Colorado, after all, and the weather is bone-chillingly cold there at this time of the year. They depict her as a grieving widow looking for emotional and physical support in the wake of her husband’s death just two months ago.
Her intent, the defense argues, was never to harm her children, but rather to keep them as comfortable as possible while she took care of her own business. This line of reasoning will surely be invoked when discussing her criminally negligent homicide charge.
Criminally negligent homicide is defined as “a gross deviation from the standard of care expected of a reasonable person that manifests in a failure to protect others from risk making one criminally liable as a result of their conduct.”
Jensen’s legal representation will try to argue that by leaving the heat on in her car, her actions and intentions do not qualify as a “gross deviation from the standard of care” expected of a parent. Lawyers also attempted to invoke Jensen’s youth and low 76 IQ in their explanation of her actions.
Prior to the death of her sons, Jensen was on probation for a third-degree assault conviction. Her appeal attempt to paint herself as a caring parent will be hurt not only by this previous charge, but also by the fact that she failed three probation drug tests in the months leading up to the incident.