Jury sentences Lufkin woman to one year in connection to toddler death

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - An Angelina County jury found a Lufkin woman guilty of criminal negligence, a lesser charge than what she was indicted on. The jury took about four-and-a-half hours to come to the decision.

After five more hours of deliberation, the jury sentenced Wideman to 365 days in state jail and ordered her to pay a $10,000 fine.

Samantha Wideman was charged with injury to a child in connection with her boyfriend's toddler son's death in 2007.

The jury found Wideman not guilty on two more severe charges.

The maximum penalty for criminal negligence is two years in a state jail.

As of 5:30 p.m., the jury was deliberating Wideman's sentence.

Tonya Lyon weeps bitterly after hearing the outcome she's been waiting on two-and-a-half years. She came to the courthouse for justice.

At the same time, cries of relief came from Samantha Wideman's sister, Shandi Hennigan.

"It feels better knowing she's not knowing to be in life for prison," Hennigan said.

After four-and-a-half hours of deliberation, the moment before the verdict will stick with Hennigan.

"It was gut wrenching," Hennigan said. "It was terrifying not knowing what you're fixing to hear about one your family members."

The jury found Wideman guilty of negligence, and not guilty of two more severe charges that could have landed her life in prison.

"My mind was shot," Hennigan said. "I didn't know what we were going to walk into. I was hoping for the best and preparing for the worst."

Off-camera, Lyon says she's devastated by the jury's decision. On the witness stand during sentencing, Lyon told the jury Ian will never grow up. He will never go to school and he will never have a life of his own.

But this is the jury's decision. One both sides have to live with.

"It's just a big weight lifted off everybody's shoulders right now," Hennigan said.

But for the mother who lost her two-year-old son, the pain will never subside.

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