BREAKING NEWS - Woman ordered to serve 30 days for mistreatment of boy

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WALLA WALLA — A woman who earlier pleaded guilty to failing to get timely medical help for a 16-year-old boy who overdosed on prescription medication last fall was handed a 30-day jail sentence Monday afternoon in Superior Court.

Leri A. Vela, 40, of 509 E. Pine St., technically was ordered to serve 360 days in the County Jail, but Judge Donald W. Schacht suspended 330 days of the sentence.

Vela told Schacht before he imposed the sentence that she didn’t know the boy� was in such medical danger when he became ill in early October. He had been staying at her then-residence on West Maple Street. Her attorney, Jim Barrett, asked that all of the jail time be suspended.

Also, the boy spoke in support of Vela, telling Schacht, "I don’t think this is fair to her."

Vela pleaded guilty Aug. 6 to a gross-misdemeanor charge of third-degree criminal mistreatment, admitting she acted negligently in not providing necessary health care for the boy. He reportedly had been comatose for hours and his condition was life-threatening when Vela took him to Providence St. Mary Medical Center on the afternoon of Oct. 6.

Vela initially was charged with first-degree criminal mistreatment — a felony — which alleged she recklessly harmed the boy by withholding necessary health care. Had she been convicted of that charge, she would have faced a prison term of 31-41 months.

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