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Ind. woman sentenced to prison in baby theft try

Associated Press Modified: July 13, 2012 at 3:16 pm •  Published: July 13, 2012

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — A western Indiana woman who acknowledged that she stabbed a couple while trying to kidnap their month-old son so she could pass the boy off as her own was sentenced Friday to 28 years in prison.

A Vigo County judge sentenced Stephanie Foster, 36, to a term of 30 years, with two years suspended.

In imposing the sentence, Judge Michael Lewis cited the fact that Foster planned the attempted baby snatching, as well as the physical and emotional harm that the couple suffered.

"I remember when my first child was born. It was the best time in my life. You took that away from these people," Lewis said.

Foster's father, Steve Silbers of Midlothian, Texas, apologized to Ashley and Michael Speer for his daughter's actions. He said Foster's family had known she was suffering from depression and feelings of low self-worth because she had been unable to have a child with her second husband, but said the family was shocked by her actions.

"I am sorry that she hurt you," he told the couple.

Defense attorney Michael Wright told the judge last year that he had planned to offer an insanity defense for Foster, who prosecutors said faked pregnancy while plotting to steal a baby following a 2009 miscarriage.

But on Friday, Wright asked for leniency, because two doctors had found indications that Foster was mentally ill at the time of the attack. He also noted that Foster had no previous felony convictions and had a clean record while in jail.

"It's clear to me that she's a much better person than the person that committed this terrible crime," Wright said.

Lewis, however, said Foster's mental illness wasn't a significant enough factor to warrant a reduced sentence.

Foster read a brief statement in court, but did not look at the Speers.

"I wish to God that I could take it back and do something different," she said. "I'm sorry. I don't know what else to say."

The Terre Haute resident pleaded guilty May 14 to a felony charge of armed robbery resulting in serious bodily injury in the June 2010 attack. In return, prosecutors agreed to drop charges of attempted murder and aggravated battery.

She has been in custody since she was arrested at the couple's Prairie Creek home.

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