Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] A Human Rights Issue-Custodial Justice.
Aaron Thompson receives 114-year sentence in missing daughter case
Posted: 11/11/2009 01:00:00 AM MST
CENTENNIAL — Aaron Thompson had several chances Tuesday, but he refused to answer the last unresolved question in the case of his missing daughter.
"It isn't too late to reveal where Aarone's remains are," said Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates, fighting back tears as he asked Thomp son to provide closure in what has been a four-year search for the child. "Help us find Aarone's body."
Arapahoe County District Judge Valeria Spencer, too, gave Thompson several chances Tuesday to speak on his own behalf and reveal where the body was buried before she sentenced him for his role in the child's death.
Each time, Thompson shook his head and said "No."
Spencer then sentenced him to 114 years in prison and jail
At the sentencing hearing Tuesday, Lynette Thompson, mother of Aarone, wipes away tears as Judge Valeria Spencer describes the abuse the children suffered in Aaron Thompson's home. At left is Aarone's sister Shaunterius Johnson. (Andy Cross, The Denver Post)
for Aarone's death and for the abuse of the seven other siblings living in their Aurora home.
"These children will recover from the physical injuries, but they will not recover from the injuries to the soul," Spencer told Thompson. "You have failed as a father. You have failed as a man."
Thompson, convicted of 31 counts, including child abuse resulting in death, was sentenced to 102 years in prison and 12 years in county jail. He will get about 900 days of that reduced for time already served.
It was almost four years to the day that Thompson reported Aarone missing on Nov. 14, 2005, telling police the child ran away from home over a cookie. A massive police hunt ensued for the little girl, but authorities quickly focused on Thompson, now 42, and his live-in girlfriend, Shelley Lowe, as suspects in her disappearance.
Aarone would have been 6 years old at the time, but police believe she died two years earlier and that Thompson and Lowe buried her in a field far away.
After three days, Arapahoe County human services took custody of the other children living in their home on East Kepner Place and police began a lengthy investigation.
Lowe died of natural causes in 2006.
Aaroné Thompson. (Special to The Denver Post)
sentencing hearing was the most dramatic day in the weeks-long trial. Several children living in the Thompson home spoke to the judge, as did their foster parents and others involved in the case.
"I hate you, Aaron," said Aarone's sister Shaunterius Johnson. "You are nothing but a coward."
Spencer noted how Thompson lied repeatedly when he was questioned by police. She recalled reviewing the taped interview recently. At one point, police left the interview room and Thompson looked up and said, "Aarone, where you at?"
"It was Oscar caliber, Mr. Thomp son," Spencer said.
Thompson's wife, Lynette Thompson, traveled from Detroit for the hearing. She said she was happy with the sentence but said it pains her knowing
she cannot give her daughter a proper burial.
"It hurts so bad," she said.
Vickie Kearney, a therapist who worked with several of the children, read a letter to the judge written by one of Lowe's daughters, who is developmentally disabled.
"You go to jail, Big A," the girl, now 13, said in the letter. "You go to jail and you'll never whoop me again."
Later, Judge Spencer recalled the testimony of the children living in the Thompson home, calling it a "torture chamber" where beatings were so frequent they became matter-of-fact to the kids.
She recounted their testimony, in which they said they were beaten with almost anything Thompson and Lowe could get their hands on — a belt, bat, extension cords.
Then Spencer glared at Thomp son for beating Lowe's disabled daughter.
"You beat a disabled child," she said, almost in disbelief. "You beat a disabled child."
During his trial, defense attorneys acknowledged that Thompson lied to police in the coverup and tried to pin Aarone's death on Lowe, but said he was not responsible for her death. Thompson did not testify during his trial.
Defense attorney Jim O'Connor on Tuesday urged the judge not to hand out a sentence that would incarcerate Thompson "for much more than the rest of his life."
"This man is not a monster," said O'Connor, who plans to appeal the verdicts.
But jurors saw it differently. On Sept. 28, after deliberating for nine days, they convicted Thompson on 31 of 55 counts. Thompson also was found guilty of conspiracy to commit child abuse resulting in death and accessory to child abuse resulting in death.
"We're satisfied with the outcome," prosecutor Bob Chappell said. "It's been a tough case for everybody."
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