'Gaping loophole' left murdered toddlers unprotected

Sonya Spoon was sentenced to 45 years in prison for suffocating her two young kids with plastic bags in 2014. Her mom says she tried to kill herself with her kids. Both sides in the courtroom agreed that the system failed those children. It's something le

UPPER MARLBORO, MD (AP/WUSA9) - A woman has been sentenced to 45 years in prison for suffocating her two toddlers in their suburban Washington home.

The Prince George's County State's Attorney Office announced that 26-year-old Sonya Spoon was sentenced Wednesday. She must serve 80 percent of her sentence before she's eligible for parole.

“This is a gaping loophole,” Alsobrooks said.

Alsobrooks blames a gap in Maryland law for leaving Spoon’s children, 3-year-old Kayla Thompson and 1-year-old Ayden Thompson unprotected from their mother who was suffering a critical depressive, suicidal breakdown in the days before the childrens’ deaths.

RELATED: Mom's guilty plea in children's murder sheds light on legal loophole

Spoon was sent home from a hospital over the objections of her mother. Yet doctors and other professionals were not required by Maryland law to report specific statements Spoon had made about wanting to kill herself and her kids.

If they had made a report, police or social services might have stepped in, Alsobrooks said.

Since the September 2014 tragedy, Alsobrooks has crusaded at the Maryland General Assembly to close the loophole. Lawmakers have failed to pass a proposed law three-years-running.

The issues are complex, including concerns about patient confidentiality and trust that a visit to a mental health professional will not result in a patient’s children being seized by social services workers.

But when children are involved, Alsobrooks believes the benefit of the doubt should go to the most helpless.

In Spoon’s case, she wrapped her children’s heads in plastic bags and duct tape, and did the same to herself. She survived. The children died.

In court Wednesday, Spoon cried and apologized.

“It wasn’t my initial intent and I didn’t do it maliciously,” she cried.

Spoon suffers from a major depressive disorder complicated by a traumatic brain injury or TBI, according to testimony at her sentencing.

Spoon’s lawyers are asking that Spoon  serve her 45-year-sentence at Maryland’s Patuxent Institution, a prison focused on treating mental health disorders.

Spoon pleaded guilty in March to two counts of second-degree murder in the 2014 deaths of her children, 1-year-old Ayden and 3-year-old Kayla. The children were found unconscious with plastic bags and duct tape around their heads.

Prosecutors say the slayings occurred shortly after Spoon was released from to a medical facility for a psychiatric evaluation after she threatened to hurt herself and her children.

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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