Daren and Barbara Jensen, the Sandy couple accused of kidnapping their 12-year-old son to avoid placing him in state custody, were arraigned in 3rd District Court Wednesday on new charges of felony child kidnapping and misdemeanor custodial interference.
The couple, who have been living in Pocatello, Idaho, with Barbara Jensen's parents, surrendered voluntarily, Salt Lake County Deputy Prosecutor Kent Morgan said. Prosecutors filed a first-degree felony charge against each of the Jensens Aug. 15 after the couple failed to surrender their son, Parker, into state custody per a juvenile court order.
Daren Jensen was arrested on the kidnapping charge in Pocatello Aug. 18 and until Wednesday was fighting extradition back to Utah. The Jensens claim they had never kidnapped their son, or fled Utah, because they were already in Idaho when the order to place Parker in state custody was ordered.
Morgan, however, has maintained that by failing to return to Utah, the Jensens broke the law.
The Utah Attorney General's Office sought custody of Parker Jensen after his parents clashed with doctors over a cancer diagnosis and rejected rushing into chemotherapy treatments for their son. Primary Children's Medical Center officials reported the Jensens to the Utah Division of Child and Family Services, something the hospital does anytime a physician believes a child may be the victim of abuse, neglect or medical neglect.
The Jensens didn't speak with reporters Wednesday, instead ducking out a back entrance to the court, where they appeared at 9:30 a.m. before Judge Denise P. Lindberg. The couple was released on their own recognizance.
A roll call hearing is scheduled for Oct. 2 before Judge Judith S. Hanson Atherton.
Morgan said Wednesday that he was "not going to be responding" to questions about a plea agreement. But Angela Micklos, the prosecutor assigned to the case, said last Friday that talks might occur once the Jensens made an appearance in court. Under Utah law, negotiations are not to be discussed until a disposition is reached, Morgan added.
Neither the Jensens nor their attorney, Blake Nakamura, returned telephone calls from the Deseret Morning News. Outside the court, however, Nakamura told the Associated Press that "we are going to be in negotiations with the state to seek a resolution of these charges."
Last Friday, the Jensens reached a deal with state authorities that allows them to retain legal custody of Parker and seek an independent evaluation of his medical status. Under the deal, however, the Jensens must abide by treatment recommendations from that physician, even if it includes chemotherapy, which the Jensens have objected to in the past. Parker's evaluation and treatment will also be supervised by the Division of Child and Family Services.
Contributing: Angie Welling, Associated Press