Woman Pleads Guilty to Child Neglect

By Beacon Staff

KALISPELL (AP) – A Kalispell woman who left her two young daughters home alone for more than nine hours in squalid conditions has pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal endangerment in a plea agreement with a recommended five-year prison term.

Rachel O’Brien, 24, also pleaded guilty Thursday to felony theft stemming from a 2006 case in which she was indicted for stealing jewelry while employed as a housekeeper.

Her guilty pleas also effectively revoked her probation on a 2004 conviction for writing bad checks. She received a five-year deferred sentence for those charges.

Prosecutors are recommending O’Brien be given 10 years in prison with five suspended when she is sentenced on Oct. 11.

O’Brien said she was sorry for leaving her children, ages 2 and 3, home alone on Aug. 4. She said the baby sitter didn’t show up.

“I wasn’t thinking clearly at all, and I didn’t weigh out the consequences,” she said.

O’Brien worked from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but did not immediately return home. She said she got a flat tire and had to take her car to the shop.

Court records said she told investigators she didn’t go home because she knew the children would have dirty diapers and need baths.

A concerned neighbor who discovered the girls were home alone called police, who arrived at about 8:30 p.m., finding the apartment a mess. The kitchen garbage was overflowing with dirty diapers, there was rotten food on the stove and a knife within reach of the children, court records said.

O’Brien was arrested on the criminal endangerment charges on Aug. 20 and later released. She has been jailed since Sept. 6, when she was arrested for violating the conditions of her release on the theft charges.

The children were turned over to the Child and Family Services division of the Department of Public Health and Human Services.

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