Woman convicted of abusing adopted Ethiopian children placed on parole
April 28, 2015 11:19 PM
By Paula Reed Ward / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Kristen Barbour will be allowed out of jail.
But now she’ll be on house arrest.
The former Franklin Park woman who pleaded no contest to abusing her two adopted Ethiopian children was granted parole on Tuesday.
“But,” Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning said, “I’m not going to completely let her walk free.”
Instead, he told defense attorney Robert Stewart that his client would now be required to be on home electronic monitoring.
Barbour, 33, pleaded to two felony counts of child endangerment, and was sentenced to six to 12 months’ incarceration with work release. She is serving her punishment at the Mercer County jail and is released each day to her home to care for her two biological children while her husband works.
Mr. Stewart argued to Judge Manning that his client ought to be released since she has already met her minimum sentence. A case that ought to be routine, Mr. Stewart complained, has instead “taken on a life of its own.”
“Never in 31 years have I seen a judge protested for a [sentence] in the standard range,” he said.
Judge Manning, who wrote an opinion this month explaining that a defendant who pleads often gets the sentence reduced to the mitigated range, agreed.
“We don’t do things simply because they’re popular,” he said.
Mr. Stewart told the court his client has been subjected to “public flogging.”
“Let her move on with her life,” he said. “You have her for four years’ probation. She is highly unlikely to be a recidivist. Let’s be done.”
Judge Manning said that the idea of giving both a minimum and maximum sentence is to allow for the release of an inmate if there have been no violations or misconducts. Barbour has had none.
“I know she’s going to be disappointed she didn’t get paroled outright, but at least she’s not in jail,” Mr. Stewart said after the hearing.
The electronic home monitoring, Mr. Stewart said, could last through the rest of Barbour’s yearlong sentence, but he expects he will request it be discontinued within a few months.
Barbour’s husband, Douglas Barbour, a former lawyer with the state attorney general’s office, pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor counts and was ordered to serve five years on probation.
The couple adopted two children, ages 5 and 1, from Ethiopia in March 2012. In September of that year, both were hospitalized. The oldest child, a boy, was found to be malnourished and had chemical burns on his skin from being forced to lie in urine. The girl suffered a brain injury and had a broken leg and toe that had gone untreated.
The Barbours’ parental rights to the children were terminated, and the children have now been adopted into a new family.