Friday, September 12, 2008

30 years for throat-slashing kidnapper

A woman who slashed a young mother's throat and kidnapped her newborn baby, setting off a frantic search across the United States, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Stephenie Ochsenbine, who was attacked by Shannon Torrez two years ago, said at the sentencing hearing that she remembered being covered in blood and pleading with Torrez while her one-year-old son, who also was covered in his mother's blood, watched the attack.

"You gave me no regard and no caring to my pleading," she said to Torrez.

Ochsenbine said she suffers panic attacks whenever she sees her attacker in court and whenever her children are out of her sight.

Torrez, 38, of Lonedell, entered what is called an Alford plea in May to one count each of child kidnapping, armed criminal action and first-degree assault. She did not admit guilt with her plea but conceded there was enough evidence for a guilty verdict.

Prosecutor Robert Parks said Torrez will serve at least 25-and-a-half years in prison.

Abby Woods was seven days old when she was abducted on September 15, 2006, about 72km southwest of St Louis, Missouri. The search ended happily five days later when Abby was found unharmed.

Torrez and Ochsenbine lived just a few kilometres apart but didn't know each other.

At her plea hearing in May, Parks said that Torrez got into Ochsenbine's home by claiming her car broke down, and that she pointed a gun at the woman and said she was taking her baby.

When Ochsenbine fought back, Torrez stabbed her in the back, cut her throat, choked her and then tied Ochsenbine and her son up in the bathroom.

Authorities said Torrez passed the child off as her own, until a relative discovered a birthmark on the infant that had been covered with makeup and notified police.


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