Superior Court upholds sentence in infant's hyperthermia death
SUNBURY - The state Superior Court has upheld the 1- to 5-year state prison sentence of a woman in connection with the 2010 hyperthermia death of her infant daughter.
The sentence was imposed last year by Northumberland County Judge Charles Saylor on Heidi Yocum, 31, who appealed her Jan. 14, 2013, sentence after the court denied a post-sentence motion to modify the sentence and withdraw her guilty plea.
Yocum was expecting to be placed on probation after pleading guilty to recklessly endangering a child.
She is incarcerated at SCI-Cambridge Springs in Crawford County.
In her appeal, Yocum claimed the trial court erred when it failed to provide the commonwealth an opportunity to testify to the defendant's cooperation and its agreement with adult probation's sentencing recommendation.
She also claimed the sentence was excessive because the court failed to consider her peripheral conduct in the offense, extraordinary post-offense rehabilitative efforts, a recommendation from the probation department and her personal characteristics that were presented.
Yocum argued the trial court erred in denying her motion to withdraw her guilty plea, which she believes was necessary to correct an injustice that included a plea negotiated with the commonwealth in good faith, with the commonwealth promising to consider her cooperation as an integral part of the agreement.
In the Superior Court's ruling to uphold Saylor's sentencing, it states that the commonwealth has not raised objection to the court's alleged failure to provide it an opportunity to be heard at sentencing, thereby causing Yocum's argument to fail.
The Superior Court also states that Yocum's claim that her sentence was excessive because the trial court failed to consider mitigating factors which were of record doesn't raise a substantial question for the court's review.
The order issued by the Superior Court states, "We find no abuse of discretion in the trial court's imposition of sentence" because the sentence was within the standard range of guidelines.
Yocum's mother, Bertha Dreese, 66, who was babysitting the infant, Anela Naloni Loner, when she died, was sentenced Sept. 5 to 16 months to 4 years in a state correctional institution on a felony of involuntary manslaughter. She is incarcerated at SCI-Muncy.
Lopaka Loner, 30, the infant's father who lived with Yocum at the time the child died, was sentenced Nov. 19, 2012, to 11 1/2 to 23 months in Northumberland County Prison after pleading guilty to misdemeanors of endangering the welfare of children and recklessly endangering another person. Loner was transferred to Lycoming County Prison in Williamsport Aug. 6 and released Nov. 16.