Testimony about Christina Haynes’ mental state didn’t sway a judge today from imposing a 10-year prison sentence on the St. Maries woman, whose child, Kyra Wine, almost died in one of the worst neglect cases in Benewah County.
Haynes’ mental-health issues didn’t excuse her from seeking medical help for her 3-year-old daughter, who was discovered by police at Haynes’ home last summer covered in scabs and feces, First District Judge Fred Gibler said.
The girl almost died as a result of injuries suffered at the hands of Haynes and her boyfriend Charles W. Smith, who Haynes met online and invited to live with her and her children at a farm north of St. Maries. Kyra’s feet were amputated and she lost a kidney, part of a finger and has patches on her head where hair won’t grow back. Judge Gibler said the 27-year-old Haynes probably wasn’t as culpable as Smith, who was sentenced earlier this spring to a maximum 10 years for child abuse.
But Haynes is responsible for allowing Smith to care for her children, the judge said at Haynes’ sentencing today.
Haynes’ 10-year sentence includes five years in prison and five years indeterminate time.
In arguing for the prison time, Benewah County Prosecutor Doug Payne said Haynes had a higher level of responsibility than her boyfriend.
“She is the child’s mother,” Payne said. “How can a child’s mother let this happen?”
Pamela Olsen, a psychologist for the state, testified that Haynes suffered from disassociation, a form of denial that prohibited her from understanding the severity of Kyra’s injuries or the charges against her.
“She didn’t have the capacity to address this situation in a problem-solving way and take action to do something,” Olsen said. Haynes’ lawyer, Benewah County public defender Dave Rodgers, said he postponed earlier arraignments because he couldn’t comprehend the actions of his client, who wouldn’t respond to his inquiries.
It was not until months after her arrest — when he and Christina’s mother Linda Yarber showed Haynes pictures of Kyra’s injuries — that the 27-year-old seemed to understand the extent of the charges.
Payne, the prosecutor, argued that the defendant knew how extreme her daughter’s injuries were because she prohibited neighbors, friends and relatives from seeing the girl before county deputies made a welfare check at the Hells Gulch home in June 2008.
After a lengthy psychological evaluation, Haynes pleaded guilty in May to felony injury to a child, which carries a maximum 10 years in prison.
She wept in court Friday.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I know I screwed up.”
After sentencing, her mother, who was accompanied by family members, cried quietly.
“It’s hard for us to understand that she is guilty of doing something she didn’t understand,” Yarber said. “She couldn’t believe that she had done something like that.”
Kyra, who has two prosthetic feet, was released from Sacred Heart Medical Center last autumn. She and her sister are living at their grandparents’ St. Maries home.