ASH FORK, Ariz. — Lillian Hester was sentenced Oct. 23 after she was found guilty of one count of child abuse and one count of first-degree murder in the 2015 death of her six-year-old nephew. Hester will serve 17-years for the first count and life in prison with no parole for the second count.
Hester, 39, was one of four adults responsible for the care of Jason Hester when he stopped breathing at home in a rural area just outside of Ash Fork.
Hester’s boyfriend Jason Conlee, 38, and her mother Lenda Hester, 65, were sentenced Oct. 8. Lenda pleaded guilty to one count of class-four felony aggravated child abuse and was sentenced to four years standard probation. Conlee pleaded guilty to aggravated endangerment and was sentenced to three years standard probation.
Kimmy Wilson, 61, Lenda Hester’s boyfriend, was sentenced Oct. 23 following a plea change. Wilson was sentenced to one year unsupervised probation with a class one misdemeanor for endangerment
All four defendants are responsible to pay restitution up to but not exceeding $500,000.
According to Shannon Bass, court technician supervisor for Coconino County, Hester did not make any statements prior to her sentencing.
Conlee and Lenda Hester were present for the sentencing. Wilson had been sentenced earlier that morning and remained in the courthouse.
Following her sentencing, Hester filed an appeal for her case with Coconino County Superior Court.
According to Bass, Hester’s defense attorney, Gregory Parzych, has withdrawn as her defense and a public defender will be appointed at an appellate council by Judge Dan Slayton.
“From that point we are sending everything to appellate court,” Bass said.
Hester will begin serving time at a Department of Corrections facility and her appeal will be heard at an appellate court in Phoenix. Once the appellate court makes a ruling, they will notify Coconino County Courts about the ruling.
Hester was caring for her nephew after her sister, Jason’s biological mother, had given him up at birth.
On June 22, 2015 Coconino County Sheriff’s Office deputies were dispatched to the Ash Fork residence for an individual who was not breathing. Kaibab Estates West firefighters arrived on-scene at the same time as officers. CPR was administered to Jason, who was transported to Flagstaff Medical Center.
A responding officer noted that when he arrived at the residence, Jason appeared small for his age and stated there was red around the whites of Jason’s eyes and he had scratch marks on his face.
He weighed 29 pounds and was 41 inches tall at the time of his death.
Additionally, Jason had multiple bruises to his head, and his right arm had been broken and had never received proper medical treatment.
Jason was one of seven children in the home at the time of the incident.
According to CCSO reports and interviews, Jason was not registered in school and had not been taken to the hospital for several years. He reportedly would drink out of the toilet, throw himself violently down and would refuse to eat.
The autopsy report indicated both the cause and manner of the death as undetermined. Included in the report were findings suspicious of child neglect.