Glenville woman sentenced to probation in death of her 2-month-old son
(ABC 6 News) — Jocelyn Pater, who pleaded guilty to 2nd-degree manslaughter in July, was sentenced Wednesday in the death of her 2-month-old son, Jett.
Pater’s defense had filed a motion asking for no prison time, despite Pater’s guilty plea. In court on Wednesday, the judge handed Pater a sentence of five years of supervised probation.
Pater’s cousin gave a victim impact statement in court, asking the judge for prison time and for Pater to get the maximum sentence.
“I want to be a voice for Jett because his voice was taken away before he had even said his first words,” the statement read. “What precedents are we setting if she gets off easy? What if she has another child, what will happen to them?”
During the sentencing, Pater took the stand and asked for a second chance.
“I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and be proud of who I am. There’s a lot of things he taught me and I regret,” said Pater. “I enjoy being a mother and I have a problem with chemical dependency and I can’t have both. I can’t do both, I have tried twice and failed.”
Pater also has a daughter, who her cousin says was taken away from her by Child Protective Services after Pater refused to stop using.
“What I am concerned about is you saying that you want to be a parent. That scares me frankly,” said Jude Kevin Seifken.
Pater’s defense team argued that her addiction was to blame and says that she has come a long way since then.
“The benefits of probation in this case I think greatly outweigh the need for confinement. If we want a productive member of society, probation is the way to get there, not simply warehousing someone for a period of time,” argued Paul Spyhalski, Pater’s defense attorney. “Pleas are about accountability, admissions of taking responsibility demonstrating that through therapy and as the PSI agent notes, she has taken that responsibility which has allowed her to move forward with other types of treatment including trauma.”
Despite the plea from Pater’s family member for time behind bars, Judge Siefken ruled in favor of Pater.
“I’m also convinced that if you have enough going for you right now and your sobriety is serious, then it is almost guaranteed if you go to prison you are going to come out and go back to that lifestyle,” Judge Siefken said. “I’m looking for reasons that you have found in yourself to never go back to that lifestyle.”
Pater says she is currently in a rehabilitation program. Judge Siefken says she has been through 11 rehabilitation programs and has never graduated or stayed clean.
Pater says as of Oct., she is 17 months sober and intends to keep it that way for the baby that suffered the consequences of her addiction.
As part of her plea deal in July, charges of child endangerment, 5th-degree drug possession, and causing or permitting a child to be exposed to methamphetamine were dropped.
In December, 2021, Austin police were called to 402 27th Street SW for a report of a 2-month-old infant who was not breathing and had a nosebleed.
According to court documents, Pater told police that she fell asleep on the couch with the child and was later awoken by her friend who had pulled the child away and took them to a neighbor’s home and called 911. The woman attempted CPR until police arrived. The child was later flown by Mayo One to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, where the child died four days later.
The medical examiner’s autopsy report said the infant died due to overlay while co-sleeping with an adult.
Law enforcement claims that Pater’s alleged use of methamphetamine caused her to smother the infant, and prevented her from awakening before causing injury that allegedly led to the boy’s death.
Detectives said they learned from hospital staff that the infant also presumptively tested positive for narcotics.
Jett was 2-months-old at the time of his death, and would have turned 2-years-old this month.