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Woman gets 5 years for injuring boy
The Denver Post | October 25, 2000

ARAPAHOE COUNTY - Day-care provider Shawna Pint was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison for causing injuries, including permanent brain damage, to a 15-month-old boy.

When Jacqueline and Greg Rodriguez, parents fo the injured child, heard the decision, they openly wept, embraced and promised to forgive Pint for hurting their child.

"I can forgive her now," Jacqueline Rodriguez said tearfully. "It is the only way to heal, because something inside of me knows that if I didn't, I would be bitter." However, the couple wore T-shirts showing a picture of their son, Hunter, now 3, and with the sentiment: "No excuse for child abuse." They said they were pleased that Pint would serve time in jail.

"She has to pay for what she has done," Greg Rodriguez said. "I feel bad for her, but what she did to us is not acceptable."

District Judge John Leopold pronnounced the sentence in a decision that took into account Pint's willingness to tell what happened on Oct. 19, 1998, when the boy ended up in Children's Hospital.

Pint agreed to recount the story as part of a plea agreement, which reduced charges against her to a single charge of child abuse with serious bodily injury.

Pint, 31, had hoped to be sentenced to a halfway house, but that hope dimmed after the Arapahoe County Community Corrections Board declined her application.

Tuesday, she appeared stunned by the prison sentence and lurched toward a seat.

After the hearing, the judge gave Pint 10 minutes to say goodbye to her husband, her two children and her parents before being taken away in handcuffs by sheriff's deputies. She will probably be eligible for parole in about 2 1/2 years, said her attorney, Patrick Mulligan.

"There is no way to prepare someone for a sentence of that nature," Mulligan said.

Hunter Rodriguez had spent the day in Pint's licensed day-care home when he was taken to the hospital with shaken-baby syndrome so severe that physicians offered little of recovery.

For nearly two years, Pint denied she hurt the child. But as part of her plea agreement, Pint told her story to child-abuse experts.

Pint said she was pulling up the boy's pants when he kicked her and set off an automatic reaction in which she thrust him from her and he was hurled headlong onto the floor.

While Pint maintains that Hunter's injuries were an accident, prosecutor John Hower and the Rodriguez family contend that the day-care worker and mother of two has never told the full story.

Jacqueline Rodriguez said Tuesday she has learned about forgiveness from Hunter.

"People so often get caught up in anger. But the heart of a child is so pure, and his love is so unconditional," she said. "He probably forgave her the second that it happened."

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