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SPANISH FORK MOM GETS 5 YEARS FOR CHILD ABUSE IN BABY’S DEATH

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A Spanish Fork woman who pleaded no contest to child abuse in the death of her 14-month-old daughter was sentenced Monday to up to five years in the Utah State Prison.

Besides being sentenced to prison, Christy Lyn Barney, 18, also was ordered by 4th District Judge Lynn W. Davis to pay more than $13,000 in restitution and more than $1,000 in fines. The sentence Davis handed down was the one recommended by the prison's diagnostic unit, where Barney has spent the past three months.Barney was originally charged with first-degree murder, along with her former live-in boyfriend Gerald Gene Blubaugh, for the death of her infant daughter, Faith Nicole Barney. In March, she pleaded no contest to the reduced charge of child abuse, a third-degree felony, in a plea bargain with Utah County prosecutors.

The baby girl died Aug. 8, 1992, at Primary Children's Medical Center, three days after she was admitted to Mountain View Hospital suffering from seizures. An official from the state medical examiner's office ruled the infant died from battered-child syndrome. The baby had a broken back, fractured skull and two broken arms.

Blubaugh was convicted last month of first-degree murder. Barney testified at his trial that she may have caused the injuries that killed her daughter, but she could not remember. Davis said it may never be known which injuries are attributable to Blubaugh and which ones to Barney, but Barney was the child's caretaker and was responsible for her safety.

"This is a real sad case," Davis said. "The irony of the case is that the infant who died was named Faith."

Barney's attorney, Cleve Hatch, argued that his client would be better served by an inpatient treatment program. He said Barney's substance abuse and mental-health problems would not be addressed properly in prison. The main reason for the prison recommendation, he said, is to keep Barney away from the child she gave birth to while incarcerated at the Utah County Jail. However, the Utah Division of Family Services currently has custody of the infant and is attempting to terminate Barney's parental rights.

"I think it's entirely premature to sentence Chris to prison," he said.

Deputy Utah County Attorney Mary Ann Baldwin said the prison sentence is appropriate because the diagnostic evaluation shows Barney is impulsive, subject to manipulation and refuses to deal with the gravity of the abuse that occurred.