A babysitter was sentenced Wednesday to 18-20 years behind bars for punching and slamming an infant into a door. It was the maximum sentence for Mona Walker.
Walker pleaded no contest to felony child abuse in September. She will be eligible for parole in nine years.
Walker beat 3-month-old Lauren Wentz last March, later telling police she was frustrated because the baby wouldn't stop crying. Lauren suffered severe injuries, including a fractured skull.
The Wentz family was in the courtroom for the sentencing. Lauren's grandfather asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence.
"I was concerned that the possibility of a shorter sentence would just diminish the actions, since she did as much as she could and not take her life,” said Dean Kreitlow. "What more could she have done, what more do you have to do to get the most serious consequences from this class of felony?"
Lauren's father, Jared Wentz, said the sentencing was a relief. "That's what we were hoping for, the max and that's what she got."
Lauren and her family are facing a lifelong struggle. "It's a long, hard road, but she improves little by little," said mother Emily Wentz. "Every day we see something new, so she's getting there. It's long and hard, but she's strong and she's happy."
Lauren is now 11 months old and unable to crawl. Her doctors are worried her vision could be permanently impaired.
"It does get hard, when you see other kids especially, that are her age and older or younger and that does make it really hard, but we just try to put that out of our mind and focus on her and what she can do," said Emily.
"What she can do is make progress and we're hopeful for that, as much progress as we can have," added Kreitlow.
Emily offered a plea to all frustrated caregivers. "Just walk out, just leave, you know we would've been so much better off if she would've left those three kids in that house by themselves."
Lauren's medical bills have reached more than $380,000. "People have been generous with donations to help out with a lot of the expenses,” said Kreitlow.
"The public, people we don't even know, just coming up and giving us a hundred dollar bill,” said Jared. “You know, it means a lot."
There is a fund set up at First National Bank called The Lauren Wentz Charitable Donation Account.
She continues to have therapy twice a week and is working with a vision therapist to try to improve her eyesight.