An Indiana woman convicted of second-degree murder for the 2001 death of her 10-week-old daughter in Desert Hot Springs was sentenced
Friday to 15 years to life in state prison.
Krissy Lynn Werntz, 34, was found guilty in the death of her daughter, Montana, whose decomposed remains were found in an Arkansas storage unit a year after she was killed.
The baby's father, Jason Michael Hann, was convicted of murder last December for inflicting the fatal injuries and was sentenced to death in
Deputy District Attorney Lisa DiMaria told jurors that the couple's first child, Jason, suffered ultimately fatal injuries in July 1999 in Vermont, and Werntz -- who later claimed she thought he may have been bitten by a spider
-- didn't call authorities and hid the baby's remains by keeping them with the couple.
A month after their daughter was born on Dec. 1, 2000, her leg was
``snapped in half like a twig'' and Werntz ignored what happened, DiMaria said.
Montana died Feb. 10, 2001, and as before, Werntz didn't call for help,
concealing the baby from law enforcement, the prosecutor said. She said that even if Werntz found her daughter dead when she returned
from work, as she told a detective, ``the truth is, this baby was abused and
killed while in the care and custody of the defendant and Hann.''
``The only way healthy baby Montana died was the defendant contributed
to her death -- either she co-abused the child, or failed to protect the child,'' DiMaria said.
Even after the deaths of two children, Werntz stayed with Hann, the prosecutor said.
``It was like some twisted, baby-killing Bonnie and Clyde,'' she said.
Montana's remains were kept in a plastic storage container in a trailer in a Arkansas storage unit. But when Hann and Werntz stopped making payments, the trailer was auctioned off in February 2002 to an Arkansas man, who found the baby's body.
Hann and Werntz were arrested in April 2002 at a motel in Portland, Maine. The following day, police found their son Jason's remains in a plastic container in a storage unit in Arizona.
In February 2006 in Vermont, Hann pleaded no contest to second-degree
murder in Jason's death and was sentenced to 27-30 years in prison. Werntz
wasn't charged in that case.
The couple's third child, a month-old boy named Michael, had skull, femur and rib fractures when he was found. That boy survived and was later
adopted by his foster mother.
Defense attorney Naomi Coady argued there was no direct or circumstantial evidence ``to show Ms. Werntz knew Jason Hann was going to abuse
and/or kill their daughter'' when she went to work on Feb. 10, 2001.
``If she knew that when she went to work that day that Jason Hann would
kill their daughter, you think she would have gone to work?'' Coady asked.
She said Werntz's decision to keep the baby's remains with her was ''evidence of a grieving mother ... everyone grieves differently.''
When Werntz had a chance to ``throw (Hann) under the bus,'' she told a
detective she never saw him abuse any of their children, and hadn't been given proof he'd done so, her attorney said.
Hann was in prison for Jason's death when Vermont law enforcement
authorities agreed to extradite him to California to stand trial for Montana's
He and Werntz were indicted by a grand jury in September 2009.