Dakota News Now is reporting that Theresa Bentaas, the Sioux Falls woman who was accused of leaving her newborn son to die in a ditch on what was then the outskirts of Sioux Falls, nearly 40 years ago, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison with 9 years suspended by Judge Bradley Zell.
The body of her infant son was found near a road in February of 1981, near what is now 26th & Sycamore. An autopsy indicated the boy likely died from exposure and failure to help him breathe.
Because the crime happened in 1981 the laws that applied to this sort of case then were to be used during consideration of sentencing.
The decades-old unsolved case was finally cracked by using advanced DNA techniques. But getting the proof involved exhuming "Baby Andrew's" body, searching through trash at the Bentaas home for DNA evidence, and Detective Mike Webb building "potential family trees".
In October, Bentaas had entered an Alford Plea to first-degree manslaughter. This somewhat convoluted legal maneuver allows someone to plead guilty but not admit to doing an illegal act.
She had also faced two murder charges which were dismissed but could have led to her being sentenced to death or life in prison. The prosecution had asked for a forty-year sentence and a first-degree manslaughter charge could also have led to a life in prison sentence.
Judge Zell indicated that due to the time Bentaas has already served in county jail she may only serve 60 days in prison and there will be no fine. He also said that because of the life she has lived since the incident, rehabilitation was not necessary.
She has been ordered to report to the Minnehaha Country Jail for transport to the South Dakota women's prison on January 15, 2022.
Source: Dakota News Now