BILLINGS – The last of three people charged in the death of a 3-year-old Billings boy was given a 10-year suspended prison sentence Thursday for criminal endangerment and must pay about $10,000 in restitution.
Jennifer Anne Larson appeared before District Judge Russell Fagg for the Sept. 7, 2004, death of Ropati “Lupe” Mulipola. The boy died three days after Larson’s former husband, Thomas Larson, picked him up by his ankles and dropped him on his head as punishment.
The Larsons and Lupe’s mother, Jessica Thompson, were charged with deliberate homicide shortly after the child’s death. Thomas Larson pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced in June 2008 to 30 years in prison. Thompson pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and was sentenced in May 2008 to 15 years in prison with seven years suspended.
Prosecutors say Jennifer Larson was the least culpable for the child’s death but, as the boy’s baby sitter, was duty-bound to seek medical attention. All three adults ignored for hours signs that the child had suffered a serious head injury.
Jennifer Larson tearfully apologized during Thursday’s court hearing for not getting help for Lupe after he was injured.
“I’m sorry that it happened the way it did,” she said. “I’m just so sorry. I wish I could fix it.”
Larson pleaded guilty to the lesser charge in August, acknowledging she knew her former husband could be violent and that he had disciplined Lupe excessively. Thomas Larson was angry at the boy because he had injured the Larsons’ 14-month-old daughter by twisting her arm.
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