MESA COUNTY, Colo. - The juvenile who was 14 years old when she murdered her foster mom in February appeared in the courtroom for a plea agreement and sentencing hearing on Thursday, August 31.
The judge sentenced Stephanie Hauck to ten years in the Division of Youth Services, with the possibility of prison in the future, which they will evaluate in the years to come. Hauck pleaded guilty to both the second-degree murder and second-degree assault of 61-year-old Linda Smith. "Ten years does not seem like a lot, but in ten years, a lot can happen. And she's going to pay for this for the rest of her life," said Katherine Haack, one of Smith's sisters.
Hauck pleaded guilty to the most serious charges in the murder of Smith, who was stabbed eleven times in her own home according to the autopsy report. Ten years is the longest possible sentence Hauck could receive when she pleaded guilty to those charges in juvenile court. "There's no sentence when your family member is murdered violently that can possibly bring you any sense of peace or relief, but the prosecution did do the best that they can do and they had everyone's best interest at heart. Do you always want more? Yes. [But you] can't always have more. Nothing's going to bring her back," said Jennifer Scears, another one of Smith's sisters.
Hauck was 14 at the time of the murder, and the benefit she got out of receiving the longest possible sentence for a juvenile was that prosecutors agreed not to move the case to adult court.
Smith's sisters said they did get some closure out of the decision, and they will carry Smith's memory with them throughout their lives. According to her sisters, Smith was a charitable, gypsy soul, who was always filled with love and happiness. "The faces and the names that you see on the news were real people. Don't just let them slip by, stop and think about their lives. Because they were real people, and their family suffers just like we do every single day. And we'll never get over it, ever. There's always going to be questions that are asked and that they're never going to get answers to, and now we know what those people go through," said Scears.
One way they hope to carry on Smith's memory is by encouraging foster parents and foster children to carry Life Alert detection systems with them.