Jasmine Bridgeman, 24, was sentenced to one-to-16 years in prison on Monday for lying to investigators about the fatal beating of her 2-year-old son, James “JJ” Sieger, Jr., at the hands of her boyfriend, Joshua Schoenenberger, 35, in May of 2015.
Second District Judge John Morris said Bridgeman will spend at least one year behind bars before a parole board will report the inmate’s progress to the judge. The maximum penalty for her crime is 15 years in prison.
The judge justified the verdict, saying it was the appropriate penalty for a mother trying to hide the abuse of her son.
“Your actions were as abhorrent as they are heartbreaking, in light of the care expected as a parent. Essentially, what I must conclude is that you chose your boyfriend over your child’s welfare,” Morris said.
Jasmine Bridgeman, who was unusually composed, responded by saying “Thank you.” She added that she was truly sorry for what had transpired and would carry the shame and guilt to her grave. “May my son rest in peace and may God save my soul,” Bridgeman read from a brief statement.
According to Yahoo! News, Joshua Schoenenberger got angry when the 2-year old boy soiled his diaper instead of using the toilet. Investigators said Schoenenberger rubbed the feces on the little boy’s face and proceeded to drag him into the bathroom.
— Sandra Yi (@KSL_SandraYi) May 10, 2015
Jasmine Bridgeman reportedly went outside to smoke a cigarette before the incident occurred. When she went back inside the house, she heard her son crying behind the bathroom door.
Bridgeman later told investigators that she tried to open the door, as she heard her boyfriend hitting the 2-year-old boy and yelling at him to take a shower. When Schoenenberger finally opened the door, the toddler was laying on the bathroom floor in his own vomit.
JJ was eventually taken to hospital unconscious, where his parents told doctors he nearly drowned in a bathtub. Although he was unconscious, doctors found bruises on the toddler’s body — which were consistent with a beating.
Two days later, the little boy died of internal injuries. Doctors believe Schoenenberger caused the injuries by stomping on JJ’s abdomen while he was laying on the floor.
Jasmine Bridgeman initially lied to police, telling several different stories in an attempt to protect her boyfriend. She initially admitted hearing her son being beaten behind a bathroom door. However, she later changed her story — saying JJ died alone in the bathtub.
Prosecutor Susan Hunt said Bridgeman consciously and consistently lied to police to make it difficult for them to determine what actually happened to the little boy.
Joshua Schoenenberger made a separate court appearance on Monday and was arraigned for child abuse and aggravated murder. During the hearing, he entered a plea of not guilty.
— Jeremy Harris (@jeremykharris) April 11, 2016
If convicted, Jasmine Bridgemen’s boyfriend is facing the death penalty. However, prosecutors have not determined whether they will seek capital punishment. Joshua’s next court date is scheduled for May 9.
During a preliminary hearing in January, Police Detective Ryan Jeppson testified that Schoenenberger also changed his story numerous times, and seemed unsure how JJ ended up with so many bruises on his tiny body.
Deseret News reports Schoenenberger initially told police he left the toddler alone in the bathtub for 40 minutes. He said he returned to find him face down in water. Joshua later changed his story, saying he had no idea what happened because Jasmine Bridgeman was alone with JJ when the incident occurred.
Joshua Schoenenberger eventually confessed that he alone caused JJ’s fatal injuries and subsequent death.
In a police interview, Joshua said he picked up the boy, squeezed him hard, and dropped him on the floor. Detective Jeppson testified that Schoenenberger was enraged that the boy was struggling with his potty training. He was further frustrated, as JJ frequently removed his soiled diapers and rubbed the feces on the walls.
“He essentially felt that JJ was ruining his house,” the detective said.
In 2010, Schoenenberger was allegedly charged for burning another child with a cigarette. Although the charges were eventually dismissed, family and friends argue that Jasmine Bridgeman unnecessarily put her son at risk.
JJ’s paternal aunt, Nicole Sieger, urged the court to punish Bridgeman to the fullest extent of the law. She said Jasmine Bridgeman wanted to party and live the life of a teenager. Despite the fact that they begged her to let the toddler live with his biological father, she simply refused.
[Image via Luxorphoto/Shutterstock]