Mother, grandmother sentenced in Naponee toddler's death

FRANKLIN — The mother and grandmother of a 2-year-old Naponee boy who died from blunt force trauma were sentenced Tuesday afternoon on child abuse charges in connection with his 2012 death.

In proceedings at the county courthouse, Franklin County District Court Judge Terri Harder sentenced Laura Rinehart, mother of Joseph Rinehart Jr., to serve 12-22 years in the Nebraska Department of Corrections.

Nancy, the boy's grandmother, was sentenced to 20-30 years, also in the state prison system.

Both women get credit for 476 days already served in county jail and are eligible for parole after half of the minimum sentence.

"I think they're fair sentences," Franklin County Attorney Patrick Duncan said. "I think the judge gave them careful consideration and did what she thought was right and just. These are serious crimes and serious penalties were enforced."

Joseph Rinehart Jr. was found to be dead when he was brought to Franklin County Memorial Hospital in Franklin for the second time on April 30, 2012. A May 2, 2012, autopsy showed he died of head and internal injuries caused by blunt force trauma.

Both Laura Rinehart, 25, and Nancy Draper, 49, earlier were charged with committing intentional child abuse resulting in death, a Class 1B felony punishable by 20 years to life in prison.

As part of a plea deal, Laura testified during the trial of her father, Peter Draper, 48, in May in Adams County District Court. On June 3, she pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of attempted intentional child abuse resulting in death, a Class 2 felony punishable by 1-50 years in prison.

That same day, Nancy pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of committing child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury, also a Class 2 felony.

A jury of eight men and four women convicted Peter of committing intentional child abuse resulting in death and committing child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury. Peter's trial was conducted in Adams County because of facility issues with the courtroom in Franklin.

Peter and Nancy Draper and Laura Rinehart shared a trailer house in Naponee with four children ages 1-4. Joseph's three siblings were removed from the home and placed in the care of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

Peter is scheduled to be sentenced 11 a.m. Oct. 10 in Franklin County District Court.

To read more, see Wednesday's Hastings Tribune or the Tribune e-edition.>>>


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