FROM STAFF REPORTS
BLANCO — A 24-year-old woman pleaded guilty in State District Judge Allan Garrett’s courtroom May 17 for her role in the 2016 death of her daughter.
The judged sentenced Jamie Petronella to 30 years in prison for her guilty plea to injury to a child for failing to seek medical attention for 15-month-old Sunny Bort, who later died. In February of this year, John Lawrence, 24, pleaded guilty to capital murder of a person under 10 for Bort’s death. He was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for the plea. Lawrence could have faced the death penalty in the case.
On May 3, 2016, Blanco police officers responded to a Blanco apartment after Petronella reported that her child was not breathing. Officers found Bort on the living room floor and unresponsive. Emergency crews transported the child to University Hospital in San Antonio, where she later died.
Emergency crews, according to the Blanco County District Attorney’s Office, observed bruising and other injuries to the child. At the time, the mother told investigators another child in the house caused those injuries to Bort.
According to District Attorney Wiley “Sonny” McAfee after the Lawrence conviction, officers reviewing the scene knew something was wrong, so the Blanco Police Department as well as McAfee’s office contacted the Texas Rangers to assist with the investigation.
The investigation led to the capital murder charge against Lawrence and the injury to a child charge against Petronella.
In a media release, officials said Lawrence took full responsibility for the injuries that caused Bort’s death and that Petronella was at work at the time. The mother was indicted on injury to a child for failing to seek medical attention for Bort, which “ultimately resulted in the child’s death,” the release added.
“Although Petronella did not cause the injuries to Sunny as revealed by the investigation, as a mother, if she didn’t protect her child from Lawrence, she should have at least tried to get help as quickly as she could, and she failed,” McAfee stated. “I am glad we were able to reach a disposition in which we did not have to put any of her other children through the trauma of a trial.”