Bradford R. Fenocchio
PLACER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY
10810 Justice Center Drive, Suite 240
Roseville, California 95678
For Immediate Release
Date: December 10, 2009
Public Information Officer
Assistant District Attorney
WOMAN WHO LET HER SPECIAL-NEEDS CHILD WANDER
IS SENT TO JAIL FOR SKIPPING PROBATION INTERVIEW
A 58-year-old Reno woman who was convicted by a jury in October for endangering her Down Syndrome child by letting him wander away at a shopping center was sent to jail Wednesday for failing to keep a court-ordered interview appointment with the Placer County Probation Department.
Mary Ellen Stamps was handcuffed by a bailiff and led away after Placer County Superior Court Judge Larry D. Gaddis ordered her incarcerated without bail.
Gaddis noted that Stamps had not returned for her own trial one afternoon and that she had also been admonished after the trial for saying she had no intention of reporting for a required interview with the Probation Department. Stamps later agreed to the appointment after talking to her attorney.
“This court has bent over backwards to accommodate Ms. Stamps,” Gaddis said. But he said he had not seen her cooperate.
Stamps has yet to be sentenced for her jury conviction on a felony count of child endangerment likely to result in great bodily injury or death.
Prosecutor Estelle Tansey of the Placer County District Attorney’s Office is pushing for a sentence of six months in jail, a suspended four-year prison sentence and five years of formal probation.
She submitted documents to the court indicating that there have been other incidents in which Stamps or her family have allowed the child to wander away without supervision, resulting in searches for the boy or the child being found by people who could find no identification on him.
Stamps was in court Wednesday for sentencing. But since Stamps had skipped her probation interview, Gaddis could not refer to a presentencing report for the proceeding. Gaddis rescheduled the sentencing for Jan. 5.
On Oct. 13, a jury found Stamps guilty of one count of felony child endangerment after a five-day trial in Placer County Superior Court in Auburn.
“It took the jury less than an hour to come back with the verdict,” Tansey said at the time.
Stamps was convicted for a March 25, 2009, incident in which she took her boy, then 7, to the Village at Northstar in Lake Tahoe and allowed the youngster, who is nonverbal and noncommunicative, to run off unsupervised.
After looking for the boy unsuccessfully, the mother left Northstar to pick up her 14-year-old daughter, who was staying nearby at a home, Tansey said. She did not notify Northstar security that the boy was lost or missing.
When Stamps returned to Northstar one to two hours later, she found her son in the care of security officials, who had discovered him running unsupervised and without identification in an underground parking garage.
Tansey said law enforcement officials have suggested to Stamps to consider a GPS tracking device for the boy or having identification tags sewn into his clothing. But she has not taken action, she said.