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Man sentenced in Provo for obstructing justice

Christopher Thunborg
Christopher Thunborg

PROVO — A man who was found not guilty of killing his girlfriend's 13-month-old son was sentenced Thursday in 4th District Court for hindering a police investigation.

A jury acquitted Christopher Thunborg, 24, in November of child-abuse homicide but found him guilty of obstruction of justice, a third-degree felony, for not immediately telling investigators he had fallen on Austin Pettersson before the child died from internal injuries.

"The jury did not believe his story that he forgot about falling on the child," said prosecutor Randy Kennard. "He was caught in a lie."

Judge David Mortensen ruled Thunborg did not have to be convicted of the underlying homicide charge to be found guilty of obstructing justice.

Mortensen sentenced Thunborg to three years of probation and 90 days in jail but said he has already served enough time. Thunborg received credit for 665 days in jail and time on GPS monitoring.

The judge said he was "shocked" by the amount of time Thunborg and his friends spent playing video games and urged him to do something more positive with his life.

Thunborg did not comment as he left the courthouse.

Medical experts for both sides at the emotional trial agreed that the boy's injuries were consistent with homicide, but the defense argued they could have happened months earlier and postmortem CPR could have done more damage.

An autopsy showed the child's intestines had been torn away from his stomach by blunt force trauma, and there also were bruises on his body.

Thunborg was baby-sitting Austin while the boy's mother, Whitney Pettersson, was working a graveyard shift on March 12, 2008. He told Pettersson when she got home in the morning that her son was not breathing.

Thunborg first told police nothing unusual had happened that night but later said that he tripped over a puppy while holding Austin and fell on top of him. His attorney, Dusty Kawai, argued that police focused on Thunborg from the start of their investigation and fit the facts to their theory of the case.

Prosecutors presented testimony about Thunborg's temper. However, information about another case in which Thunborg is charged with abusing a disabled adult at his job at the Utah State Developmental Center was deemed inadmissible.

A pretrial conference in that case is set for Feb. 16 in American Fork.

e-mail: pkoepp@desnews.com