Jennifer Barrise, co-defendant in the murder of her daughter, Jacqueline Amber Barrise, was sentenced to a “no less than seven, but no more than 14” years in prison.
Barrise sentenced to 7-14 years
—Jennifer Barrise, co-defendant in the murder of her daughter, Jacqueline Amber Barrise, was sentenced to a “no less than seven, but no more than 14” years in prison.
The sentence was handed down Thursday at the Wayne County Courthouse.
The child was killed by co-defendent Christopher Fitzpatrick, who pleaded guilty to Murder of the First Degree March 8.
Fitzpatrick was given a mandatory sentence of life without the possibility of parole on May 17.
Barrise pleaded guilty to murder in the third degree graded as felony 1, on Sept. 7, 2012. She has been incarcerated at the Wayne County Correctional Facility since June 10, 2011 and has 545 days credit.
She was crying throughout the entire proceeding, beginning as she was walking into the courtroom.
Wayne County District Attorney Janine Edwards spoke on behalf of the Commonwealth. The recommendations of the DA's office were that Barrise pay the costs of prosecution, pay a fine of $500, undergo incarceration in a State Correctional Institution for a period of no less than 20 years and no more than 40 years, and to submit to the drawing of a DNA sample and pay $250 for the cost.
The memorandum that Edwards read also talked about remorse.
“Often remorse is a key component in a sentencing court's evaluation of a defendant,” she said. “In the case at hand, this defendant shows none...Remorse is nonexistent in the defendant's statement to the probation officer who wrote the report and in the defendant's letter to this Honorable Court. There is not one single mention of distress by the defendant over the loss of baby Jacqueline Amber Barrise..”
Edwards said the plea of third degree came from “extensive negotiations” and with “considerations to achieve justice” based upon circumstances presented.
“The defendant's wanton and willful disregard for the life of her newborn baby promoted the end result, the murder of baby Jacqueline Amber Barrise by Christopher Fitzpatrick,” Edwards stated. “In her written statement to the court, the defendant goes to great lengths to depict herself as a victim of Christopher Fitzpatrick and to display her educational and social hardships that she faced in her life.”
Edwards added that the Commonwealth's decision to accept a plea of the third degree murder already took into account that at “trial the defendant would have been permitted to present expert testimony related to her alleged diminished capacity” to form the specific intent required to prove a higher degree murder charge.
“The Commonwealth strongly believes that a sentence of 20 to 40 years for this defendant for her role in the murder of newborn baby Jacqueline Amber Barrise is a proper balance of justice in this case,” Edwards said. “If she believed the plan was to go to the hospital then why wouldn't she pick up the baby or clean her up and give her a fighting chance? If she believed that was the plan, why did she ask three times if he was going to kill it? This was not a crime of passion and not in the heat of the moment. This was a choice, a choice by the defendant to pick her boyfriend over her newborn. She made a choice to do nothing for a helpless infant.”
Barrise's defense attorney, Steve Burlein, talked about her rough childhood and having “three very controlling individuals” in her life after high school. He said when he first met Barrise she “couldn't talk about Jacqueline without crying.”
She then had a chance to address the court.
“I'm truly, truly sorry for my actions,” Barrise said. “I was scared when I got to prison but God opened my ears to his word and I learned about salvation. Your Honor, I just want you to know that I'm a good person with a great heart. I just always wanted to be loved.”
Judge Raymond Hamill said he would “hold you (Barrise) jointly accountable for your daughter's death.”
“Chris Fitzpatrick may be one of the most evil individuals I've seen,” Hamill said. “I think he wouldn't let you touch your daughter because he feared you would stop him. He is a predator and you were his prey. However, you made a reckless decision. There's a lot you could have done, should have done, but didn't do. I don't believe you meant any harm to your daughter, and by that I mean intended to. I don't think you are mean-spirited. But you didn't use the judgement a mother should have used.”
The final sentence of Barrise was paying the costs of prosecution; paying a $500 fine; getting a DNA sample and paying that cost of $250; and not less then seven years and no more than 14 years.
“I want to thank the Pennsylvania State Police for their hard work, dedication and professionalism with this type of crime,” said Edwards. “Without them we probably wouldn't have been able to get two guilty pleas.”