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Tucson mom guilty of reckless harm, failing to seek treatment in daughter's scalding

Tucson mom guilty of reckless harm, failing to seek treatment in daughter's scalding

  • Updated
Samantha Osteraas on the stand

Samantha Osteraas reacts to her testimony during her trial in Pima County Superior Court on October 17, 2018 in Tucson.

A jury found a Tucson mother guilty Friday of reckless harm and of failure to seek treatment within a reasonable time in the scalding of her daughter in bathtub water.

Samantha Osteraas’ adopted daughter was 5 when she suffered third-degree burns over more than 70 percent of her body.

Osteraas, 30, testified that the child got into the bath on her own and then stayed in, in a dazed state.

The girl, now 7, told the jury her mother held her down in the tub, using a pink towel. 

A jury of nine women and three men began deliberating late Thursday afternoon about Osteraas’ actions on Dec. 29, 2016, and rendered their verdict Friday afternoon in Pima County Superior Court.

Deputy Pima County Attorney Alan Goodwin had urged jurors to use common sense in deciding whether a child would sit in scalding water as the burns deepened, and whether a mother who claimed to care would wait hours to get help. The girl was “on death’s door” before Osteraas sought help, he said.

Osteraas at times cried as she testified Wednesday and Thursday about finding the child in the bath. She said repeatedly that she was “in shock” and that was why she made 17 phone calls to a paramedic neighbor and his wife as well as to her husband before finally calling 911.

Defense attorney Jeff Rogers suggested to jurors in closing arguments Thursday that the child may have been in such a confused state that she mistook her mother helping her out of the bath for holding her down.

Doctors eventually had to amputate the child’s badly burned toes, and she will continue to need surgeries throughout her life to manage the scarring which runs from her chest down to her feet.

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