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Utah woman sent to prison for killing daughter

Published July 15, 2014 12:39 pm

Courts • Mother will serve up to 30 years for manslaughter and discharge of a firearm.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

West Jordan • A West Jordan woman who shot and killed her 18-year-old daughter and then turned the gun on herself was sentenced Tuesday to prison for up to 30 years.

Mary Ethyl Hansen, 55, was charged in 3rd District Court to first-degree felony murder for the March 22, 2012, slaying of Virginia Ray Hansen.

But in March 2013, the mother pleaded guilty and mentally ill to lesser charges of manslaughter and felony discharge of a firearm, second-degree felonies each punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

On Tuesday, Judge Bruce Lubeck sentenced Hansen to 1 to 15 years on the manslaughter count and three to 15 years on the firearm count. He ordered that the two sentences run consecutively, which puts Hansen behind bars for a minimum of 4 years and a maximum of 30 years.

Defense attorney Heidi Buchi said Hansen has to live with the fact that her daughter is gone because of her actions.

"That's something she has to deal with every minute of every day," Buchi told the judge.

Buchi asked the judge to recommend that Hansen serve her time in the mentally ill offender unit at the prison, something Lubeck which said he would do.

Hansen's cousin, Monica Davis, told the judge that Hansen has often said she wants to be with Virginia. Davis said that when she cleaned out Hansen's home, she found evidence of a loving environment, including notes that her cousin wrote to Virginia saying she loved her.

According to charging documents, Hansen and her daughter had entered into a death pact. But when the mother failed to kill herself after shooting her daughter twice, she drove up the street to a neighbor's home and told her to call 911.

Paramedics found the girl dead inside the home she shared with her mother.

Prosecutor Josh Player described Virginia as a bright girl who wanted to write books. He said Hansen moved to Utah looking for a better life but she and her daughter became more and more isolated.

"One of the greatest tragedies here," Player said, "is the failure to get help for herself, to get help for her daughter."

pmanson@sltrib.com

Twitter: @PamelaMansonSLC