Teen mother who smothered baby and fled to Idaho gets probation

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A Independence woman who admitted she suffocated to death her 6-week-old baby in 2015 has received a suspended seven-year prison sentence and was placed on five years probation.

The sentence was handed down Tuesday by a judge in Jackson County Circuit Court. Whitley R. Evenson, 21, had previously pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the killing that occurred Sept. 16, 2015 inside a home in the 1300 block of Short Avenue in Independence.

Evenson was 17-years-old at the time.

Circuit Court Judge Marco Roldan sentenced Evenson to seven years in prison but suspended the execution of the prison term and placed Evenson on five years probation.

Roldan ordered Evenson to be admitted to mental health treatment at Truman Medical Center, to reside at a specified transitional living facility, obtain a high school equivalency diploma, complete parenting classes and have no unsupervised contact with an older daughter.

If Evenson violates the condition of her probation, she must spend seven years in prison, according to court records.

Mike Mansur, a spokesman for Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, declined to comment on the sentence.

Jackson County prosecutors accused Evenson of killing the child by putting her hand over the child’s mouth until the child suffocated.

Police responded to a report of an infant not breathing at a home. Arriving officers found the child unresponsive on a dining room table. Evenson told officers she had fed the child and changed its diapers a few hours earlier.

Months later, Evenson eluded authorities for weeks after skipping town to avoid an arrest warrant for missing a court hearing.

She was arrested in the parking lot of a store in Post Falls, Idaho, by a U.S. Marshals Service task force.

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Glenn E. Rice covers crime, courts and breaking news for The Kansas City Star, where he’s worked since 1988. Rice is a Kansas City native and a graduate of the University of Central Missouri.