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Foster parents’ sentence reduced in death of girl, 2

Sat., Feb. 1, 2014

Post Falls foster parents once facing charges of injury to a child and conspiracy to conceal evidence were sentenced on a reduced charge of perjury in a North Idaho courtroom this week.

Jeremy M. Clark and Amber M. Clark were accused of causing the 2009 death of 2-year-old Karina Moore, who was placed in their home by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. The couple told investigators that the girl fell down some carpeted stairs, but the coroner ruled her death a homicide from blunt force trauma.

Both entered Alford pleas on the perjury charge, meaning they didn’t admit guilt but conceded that a jury could find them guilty based on the evidence. They were sentenced to 90 days in jail, which can be served on weekends over the next 18 months, and 300 hours of community service, which must also be completed within 18 months. Both are on two years of supervised probation.

First District Judge Steve Verby granted withheld judgment, which means the Clarks can have the perjury charges dismissed after two years if they do not violate their probation and complete the jail time and community service as ordered.

Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh argued in court this week that Moore’s death was a homicide and asked for a sentence of 14 years in prison with a minimum of seven years served. “We were disappointed,” McHugh said of the sentence.

McHugh said he doesn’t regret agreeing to the plea deal that allowed the charges to be reduced. He made the deal to guarantee a felony conviction, he said.

“There’s always the possibility with the other charges that we might not have prevailed at trial,” he said.

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