Palisade mom whose kids died when left in SUV failed 3 drug tests

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(Photo: Mesa County Sheriff's Office)

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — In the months leading up to her fateful and fatal choice to leave her two children in a running vehicle, a Grand Junction mother failed three different court-ordered drug tests, according to a report.

The Grand Junction Sentinel is reporting that Heather Jensen took the drug tests to satisfy the conditions of her probation. She pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and received an 18-month deferred judgment, with the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office agreeing to erase the conviction if she met the terms of her probation.

Failing those tests put her in violation of her probation. She is scheduled to appear in court Friday to “show cause” for why her deferred judgment should not be revoked.

Jensen was arrested Wednesday at her mother’s home in North Fort Myers, Fla., for two counts of criminally negligent homicide, two counts of child abuse resulting in death while acting with negligence, and one count of false reporting.

The charges were filed in connection with the death of Jensen’s two sons, Tyler, 4, and William, 2. The two died of overheating on Nov. 27 after sitting by themselves in her SUV in a parking lot near the Powederhorn Ski Resort.

According to an arrest affidavit, Jensen left her children in the vehicle while she had an affair with a man in a truck parked nearby.

Documents obtained by the Sentinel show that Jensen failed drug tests on Marc. 21, Oct. 8 and Oct. 26. She tested positive for THC, the primary intoxicant in marijuana, on all three occasions.

Mesa County Criminal Justice Services Director Dennis Berry told the newspaper that the handling of Jensen’s probation was typical, meaning it was not out of the ordinary that her deferred judgment was yet to be revoked despite repeatedly failing the terms of her probation.

“Generally, on the first positive (for marijuana), we’ll deal with it internally, but a second we won’t,” Berry told the newspaper.

That second positive test on Oct. 8 likely led to a discussion between Jensen and her treatment provider, Berry said, and the court wouldn’t have viewed the positive test on Oct. 26 as a third offense because the THC leftover in Jensen’s system would likely have been considered “residual.”

While she did not fail a fourth test on Dec. 13, the documents obtained by the Sentinel indicated that the test indicated “new drug use” by Jensen. Berry suspects test is what set the wheels in motion to revoke her deferred judgment.

When the court found out that Jensen was living in Florida, it was determined that yet another term of her probation had been violated.

Jensen submitted a hand-written letter to a Mesa County judge on Dec. 11, according to the Sentinel. She was seeking to be released from the term of her probation that stipulated she had to remain in Colorado.

“I believe it would be a great opportunity for me to start my life over again in Florida, and being surrounded by all my family who loves me to help me get through the losses I’ve had in this past month,” Jensen wrote. “And I would greatly appreciate it if you will let me move on with my life in Florida.”

The District Attorney’s office said the court did not issue an approval of Jensen’s request to leave, and said she decided to relocate in spite of that fact.

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