Oklahoma woman sentenced in child abuse case

BY TIFFANY GIBSON tgibson@opubco.com Modified: November 7, 2011 at 9:49 pm •  Published: November 7, 2011

— Emotions were running high Monday as an Edmond woman stood before a judge for sentencing in a child abuse charge connected to the death of an American Indian girl.

More than 90 people packed the courtroom in Guthrie for a sentencing hearing for Amy Holder, 40, who was found guilty of child abuse Oct. 3 in connection with the death of her 2-year-old foster child, Naomi Whitecrow.

Jurors had recommended no prison time and that she pay a $5,000 fine. The district attorney had hoped for a stiffer punishment.

On Monday, Judge Stephen Kistler assessed a $5,000 fine and a $150 Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation fee, and told Holder to undergo counseling, pay $10,000 to a victim's compensation fund and register for 10 years as a violent crime offender.

Holder's attorney, Scott Adams, said they will pay the money and don't plan to appeal the case.

“We're trying to get on with Amy's life right now. It's been a very difficult time also for her,” Adams said. “Our hearts and prayers go out to all of the Whitecrows.”

“This is a tragic, awful thing that happened, and the truth is that Amy didn't murder a child. This is a child abuse case and has been somewhat misrepresented,” Adams said.

Many of the people in the crowd Monday were family members of Naomi and identified themselves as members of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes.

They wore pins with Naomi's picture on them and stood outside the Logan County Courthouse holding signs. Members of the tribes wrote letters to the judge after Holder's conviction, asking for a harsher sentence.

The judge said Monday he received letters from people all over Oklahoma and in other states. But he said state law prohibits him from overriding the jury's decision.

After the hearing, Naomi's mother, Kala Whitecrow, began sobbing and shouted at Holder from across the room. She was escorted out of the courtroom by her family and a sheriff's deputy.

As people left the hearing, some of Whitecrow's friends and relatives shook their heads while others made comments about how they disagreed with the sentence. One woman with a child was heard to say, “Don't look at my baby, white people.”

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