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Foster mom gets 4 years probation in son's death

Posted at 6:27 PM, May 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-14 19:23:36-04
Four years probation.
 
That's what a judge gave a Tucson foster mother, Susan Mathews, after she pleaded guilty to negligent homicide -- a felony. Her 12 year old adopted son, Patrick Mathews, died in a fire set by a younger foster child in their bedroom in 2014.
 
The state requested jail time, but the judge chose a more lenient sentence.
 
Susan Mathews cared for more than a dozen, mostly special needs children. in her home for several years, but that privilege was stripped away permanently.
 
With no criminal record the judge gave Mathews 4 years probation.
 
Judge Danelle Liwski told Mathews, "I also do not believe a prison sentence is appropriate because you have shown remorse."
 
Given a chance to speak, Mathews had little to say. " I'm very emotional today. So I won't be speaking much. But I think I said everything in the letter that I sent you," she said to the judge.
 
Judge Liwski addressed the letter, concerned Mathews didn't seem to take responsibility for Patrick's death.
 
He died just hours after being pulled from his bunk -- severely burned. He was disabled. stuck in bed, unable to escape without help.
 
The judge said the 6-year-old had a history of starting fires and Mathews was well aware of that fact and the risk to Patrick, but didn't do enough to prevent his death.
 
Judge Liwiski said, "You have got to accept responsibility. And you need to go through therapy and counseling to deal with that because this is your responsibility.>
 
Mathews has 20 days to appeal her case.