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Mother gets 10 years for killing child 56 years ago

9:01 PM, May 1, 2013   |    comments
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(USA TODAY) -- A woman who pleaded no contest to second-degree murder earlier this year in the 1957 death of her 9-month-old daughter was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison.

Ruby Klokow, 76, of Sheboygan received a harsher sentence from Judge Angela Sutkiewicz of Sheboygan County Circuit Court than prosecutors had consented to in an earlier plea agreement. 

That agreement recommended that Klokow be sentenced to 45 days in jail and 10 years probation because of health issues and her age.

In handing down the sentence, Sutkiewicz called the crime a "serious and horrendous offense" that required prison time rather than probation.

"Anything but incarceration would diminish the seriousness of the offense," Sutkiewicz said.

Klokow will be eligible for release in 2 and a half years.

Klokow originally told police that her baby Jeaneen fell from a couch to a carpeted floor. 

The baby's death subsequently was ruled an accident, but the case was reopened in 2008 when Klokow's adult son, James Klokow Jr., came forward with stories of horrific child abuse and told police he suspected his mother killed the girl based on what he had learned through the years from other family members.

"Anybody that kills a little child that can't defend themselves is an evil monster and don't deserve to have freedom," James Klokow said last month before his mother's sentencing was delayed. "I think she didn't want us to be born."

A forensic pathologist who examined reports and autopsy results after the case was re-opened said the injuries the baby suffered could not have happened the way Ruby Klokow originally reported.

Ruby Klokow's criminal case in this city about 50 miles north of Milwaukee had been delayed several times since she was charged in 2011. 

Her mental health status was in question, but a judge ultimately decided she was competent to assist in her defense.

In interviews with police in 2010, Ruby Klokow admitted to lying to investigators more than 50 years before and ultimately confessed, saying she had thrown the child onto the couch because she was angry at her son, and the infant then bounced onto the floor.

The baby's death forever haunted James Klokow. He said his mother blamed him, telling him it was his misbehavior that distracted her and led to Jeaneen's death.

He also told police that his mother regularly beat him and that she had choked him and broke his arm and nose. He described his mother covering the head of his mentally challenged younger brother and striking the wailing boy's toes one by one with a hammer.

Family members also said Ruby Klokow threw Jeaneen at her husband repeatedly and kicked James Klokow in the knees with steel-toed boots.

Besides Jeaneen and James, Ruby Klokow's child Scott died as a baby. His body was disinterred as police investigated but his death was not considered suspicious, the district attorney said.

A second-degree murder charge carries a maximum 25 years in prison, but prosecutors sought a plea deal because of the unusual nature of the case, which involves decades-old events and is required to be tried under state statutes in effect when the crime was committed. 

Lawyers on both sides conceded that trying the case using statutes that haven't been used in decades was problematic.

Contributing: The Associated Press


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