Jury gets case of Palisade mom whose kids died when left in SUV

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(Photo: Mesa County Sheriff's Office)

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — The jury was set to begin deliberations on Thursday in the trial of a Palisade mother whose kids died from overheating when they were left in her SUV while she allegedly met a man to have sex.

Opening statements began last week, with prosecutors portraying Heather Jensen as a selfish liar who issued her two children a death sentence when she locked them in her vehicle while she went off to have sex.

Closing arguments were scheduled to be heard on Thursday, after which the jury of eight women and four men was set to begin deliberations. The key to the deliberations is expected to be whether Jensen had any perception that her children could die of hyperthermia after being locked in the vehicle.

During the trial, Jensen’s defense attorneys characterized her as a lonely, troubled widow trying to protect her kids by leaving the heat on to keep them warm. Jensen’s lawyers also said their client has an IQ 76, which is borderline developmentally disabled, and blamed any poor choices she may have made not only on her lack of intelligence, but on her young age and the death of her husband.

Jensen is 25 years old, and her husband died two months before the incident in a car wreck. She sobbed loudly in the courtroom throughout the trail, which began on Jan. 22.

Jensen is being charged with child abuse resulting in death, false reporting, and — the most serious charge — criminally negligent homicide, which is defined as “a gross deviation from the standard of care expected of a reasonable person that manifests in a failure to protect others from risk making one criminally liable as a result of their conduct.”

The charges were filed in connection with the death of Jensen’s two sons, Tyler, 4, and William, 2. The two died from complications related to hyperthermia and overheating on Nov. 27, 2013, after sitting by themselves in her SUV in a parking lot near the Powederhorn Ski Resort.

According to an arrest affidavit, Jensen locked her children in the vehicle for 90 minutes while she had sex with a man in a truck parked nearby.

In the months leading up to her fateful and fatal choice to leave her two children in a running vehicle, the Palisade mother also failed three different court-ordered drug tests and violated her parole when she fled to Florida, according to a report.

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