Woman Sentenced to Five Years in Prison For Child Neglect

By Beacon Staff

KALISPELL (AP) – A Kalispell woman who left her two young daughters home alone for more than nine hours in filthy conditions has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Rachel O’Brien, 24, was sentenced Wednesday in District Court.

O’Brien pleaded guilty in September to two counts of criminal endangerment for neglecting her daughters, ages 2 and 3. She was sentenced to two 10-year prison sentences, both with five years suspended, to run concurrently.

In a plea agreement, she also pleaded guilty to felony theft for stealing jewelry while she was employed as a housekeeper in 2006. She received a concurrent five-year term for the theft.

Her guilty pleas also revoked her probation on a 2004 conviction for writing bad checks. She was re-sentenced to a five-year prison term on that charge, also to run concurrently.

During her change-of-plea hearing, O’Brien testified that she left her children because the baby sitter didn’t show up. However, she didn’t return home right after work, saying she had a flat tire.

Time cards show O’Brien worked from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 4. Police recovered the children at about 8:30 p.m., after a neighbor called to report the children were home alone.

When officers arrived, they found food on the floor, dirty diapers overflowing a garbage can and a knife within reach of the children, court records said.

The children are in the care of their father, officials said.