Mom gets probation, family remains under supervision
December 19, 2013
A 20-year-old woman, who admitted leaving her 2-year-old unsupervised, was sentenced Monday to probation and ordered to comply with state and county officials to assure the little girl's safety.
District Judge Michael Gibbons sentenced Katherine Hetzel to three years probation, and ordered her to get a mental health evaluation and follow recommendations.
She must abstain from drugs and alcohol, and take any prescribed medication.
She pleaded guilty to child endangerment, a gross misdemeanor, and faced up to one year in Douglas County Jail and a $2,000 fine.
Gibbons had ordered a Court-Appointed Special Advocate to represent the interests of the little girl.
The child was not harmed. Hetzel estimated she was unsupervised for about 30 minutes.
According to reports, a neighbor found the little girl clad only in a diaper on Sept. 12. She took the child to another neighbor's house to see if anyone recognized her.
Hetzel was sitting on the couch at the neighbor's, but did not claim the little girl was her daughter. She told the judge at her arraignment she feared she might harm the child.
A CASA representative told the judge on Monday that she was concerned about multiple changes in the household.
She said the family had financial problems, which resulted in a lack of hot water and the Internet for household members who reportedly were being home-schooled.
She said some of the family members had moved in with friends.
"I think what you're getting at is there needs to be home stability," Gibbons said.
Gibbons ordered that a separate case be opened by the district attorney's office to monitor home conditions.
Hetzel's attorney, Jamie Henry, said her client had applied for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and assistance with housing costs.
She said Hetzel was looking for employment, along with her fiancé, whom the family said was a positive influence in the home.
"Had it not been for my fiancé, I would not be able to take care of my child," Hetzel said.
Hetzel said she was following the court's directive that she not be alone with her daughter.
"I've tried to step up to do my duties as a parent," she said.
Gibbons suspended a six-month sentence against Hetzel, and ordered her to cooperate with Nevada Child and Family Services and CASA.