Last month, a King County Superior Court judge gave Jon Pomeroy the maximum penalty for his role in the purposeful starvation of his daughter. Just hours ago, Rebecca Long, Pomeroy's estranged wife and the source of the abuse that left her teenage stepdaughter weighing just 48 pounds, was sentenced to the same--41 months in prison.
The ruling came at the end of a day of wrangling between Long's defense team and King County prosecutors. Long's attorney, Robert Wayne tried and failed to keep under seal evidence of Long's alleged psychological difficulties. He'd stated in previous hearings that Long's behavior could be explained by Disassociative Identity Disorder and requested that she receive a more lenient sentence. Presiding judge William Downing ultimately declined to oblige.Through her attorney, Long alleged that she's been battling mental illness including depression since long before she married Pomeroy in 2001. Joan Goldston, the clinical social worker whose care Long has reportedly been under since her arrest last year, argued that when sufficiently pushed, Long slips into "another fragment of her personality" that cannot make adult decisions.
Long's letter to the court contained another, less dramatic explanation for her stepdaughter's maltreatment. Rationing the girls water was not an attempt to impose discipline but a way to prevent her from spilling it, she wrote.
For his part, prosecuting attorney Zach Wagnild argued in effect that those claims were total bullshit.
Ultimately, Judge Downing ruled that--correct or not--the psychological diagnosis offered by the defense was not a sufficient enough mitigating factor.
"What it comes down to is that there is no connection between the diagnosis proposed and the crimes Ms. Long committed," said Downing. "Mr. Pomeroy was oblivious to what was going on in the home, and that in and of itself was reprehensible, but Ms. Long was oblivious to the consequences."
Long will spend the next 3.5 years in custody at the Washington Corrections Center for Women.
After the hearing, Dwight Thompson, foster father to both Pomeroy children, said they can now begin putting this chapter of their lives behind them. Asked if the Pomeroy kids believed that Long was suffering from a severe mental illness, he remarked that he couldn't speak for them. From behind a wall of television cameras, Jon Pomeroy's now 13-year-old foster son grinned and shook his head no.