OGDEN, Utah — 36-year-old Tisha Morley, a Roy woman found guilty of killing an 8-month-old baby at her in-home daycare, was given the maximum sentence of five years to life in prison Wednesday afternoon.
It was a packed courtroom with standing-room only, and there was not a dry eye in the room as Lincoln’s mother, father and the woman accused of killing him approached the stand.
“For the first time we are walking away with a huge weight lifting off our shoulders,” said Alesha Penland, Lincoln’s mother.
The Penlands endured a painful three and a half years walking in and out of this courthouse countless times, their strength coming from their son Lincoln.
“He is always in mind and that's why we came time and time again through all the delays, everything, because we're here for him; he doesn't have that voice so we as his parents are here and we will always be here for him,” Alesha Penland said.
The trial froze the Penlands in time, reliving February of 2014 when they picked up their eight-month-old son Lincoln at Tots and Tykes, a daycare Tisha Morley ran out of her home in Roy. He was cold and unresponsive and died days later from brain trauma due to shaking and a skull fracture.
Prosecutors accuse Morley of slamming Lincoln into a wooden beam on a changing table. She was found guilty in May, and Wednesday stood in front of Lincoln's parents.
Morley told the courtroom, "I'm not a terrible person. I'm a person who made a terrible mistake."
“Hearing her say she's sorry but not taking full accountability it was difficult,” said Chris Penland, Lincoln’s father.
Standing four feet from the woman convicted of killing their son, they spoke about Lincoln.
“I had prepared all these statements but the mindset I was in I was very angry and I just felt forgiveness,” Chris Penland said.
Lincoln's mother told Morley "after all the pain and suffering we have been through, I wouldn't wish this upon anyone. Not even you."
Before the sentence was given, Lincoln’s mother showed the courtroom two pictures.
“I brought these pictures because I wanted those to see him for who he was and not remember the last image of Lincoln Penland as an autopsy photo,” Alesha said.
Their focus is now on forgiveness.
“We know that Lincoln has already forgiven her,” Alesha said.
Leaving this courthouse for the last time.
“We no longer have to carry this burden, and that's what we wanted for so long is to just let it go,” Alesha said.