Woman found guilty in abuse death of disabled adult

Posted at 4:13 PM, Sep 21, 2012
and last updated 2012-09-21 18:13:01-04

KEARNS, Utah – A Kearns woman accused of fatally abusing a 22-year-old disabled woman was found guilty Friday.

Sherrie Beckering was accused of contributing to the death of Christina Harms after she was found hanging crucifixion-style in a closet of their Kearns home in March 2011.

“There was an abuse that was occurring that was extreme, that was occurring over a long period of time in a household and all members of the household would have known of the abuse, there was just no way of not knowing about it,” said prosecuting attorney Chad Platt.

An autopsy found that Harms had suffered from dehydration and had toxic levels of chemicals typically found in Benadryl in her system. They say the injuries had been sustained within a week of her death and that the cause of death was improper care by her caregiver.

“They found a closet in the family room and in that closet there was an alarm on the door and a metal bar hanging in the closet to where they found evidence of the victim being hung crucifixion-style in this closet,” said Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal.

Harms suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome and had the mental capacity of a 12-year-old. Beckering’s daughter Cassandra Shepard was Harms’ legal guardian, but Sherrie and her husband Dale Beckering also lived in the home and at one point cared for Harms for a 6-month period.

Sherrie Beckering was found guilty Friday of first-degree felony aggravated abuse of a vulnerable adult. She faces up to life in prison.

Dale Beckering was found guilty of abuse of a vulnerable adult in February and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Cassandra Shepard faces multiple charges, including first-degree murder.