published Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Traci Carpenter sentenced to less than a year in prison in baby girl’s death

Traci Leann Carpenter was sentenced to less than a year in jail for a child abuse charge connected to the death of her 18-month-old daughter in 2006.

Carpenter, who pleaded guilty to a single count of child abuse in February, was sentenced to 11 months, 29 days in jail and three years of house arrest today by Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Don Poole.

Carpenter went into custody at the hearing today.

Carpenter's then-boyfriend Brian Rutherford was originally charged in Sierra Carpenter's death. He was acquitted in a 2008 jury trial. Traci Carpenter was charged with aggravated child neglect, prosecutors believed she failed to protect her daughter from alleged abuse by Rutherford.

Rutherford maintained he never abused Sierra.

He rushed her to the Dallas Bay Volunteer Fire Department near the near the couple's home when Sierra stopped breathing.

She was transported to the hospital and died a few days later on April 27, 2006.

A medical examination revealed deep bruising and bleeding on the brain, experts testified that prolonged, repeated abuse to produce such injuries.

The neglect charge was reduced to child abuse in exchange for a guilty plea in February.

Traci Carpenter had no prior criminal history, which contributed to the lower sentence.

For more see Tuesday's Times Free Press.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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