CLEARFIELD – An Allport woman convicted of third-degree murder in connection with the death of a two-year-old girl was sentenced Monday.
Jennifer Ann Medzie, 22, was living with the girl’s father and taking care of the child when Sophia Hoffman Lauder became unresponsive in November of 2013. The child later died at the Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, where it was determined she suffered from blunt force trauma.
After a trial in August, a jury found her guilty of third-degree murder, aggravated assault, simple assault, endangering the welfare of children and recklessly endangering another person.
Clearfield County President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman sentenced her on Monday to 20 to 40 years in state prison.
Prior to sentencing, District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. reviewed the details of the case and the injuries, noting that the girl’s “brain was encased in blood.” Because Medzie has not taken responsibility, Shaw stated she is a candidate for re-offending.
“If she thinks this is OK, she could do this to another child,” he said. He asked the judge to give her the maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison.
Her attorney, Robert Donaldson, asked for a five-year sentence with a lengthy probationary period.
Relatives and loved ones of both Sophia and Medzie addressed the court.
Cody Lauder, Sophia’s father, asked the judge to give her the maximum sentence, saying that Medzie has ripped his family apart. He became too emotional to speak, but later continued to say he grew up believing in second chances but this was different.
“She murdered my two-year-old daughter,” he said.
The girl’s grandmother said she misses Sophia and thinks about her every day. For her birthday in September, she said they went to the cemetery instead of going to a kid’s party. She said: “This is how we celebrate her birthday now.”
As Medzie’s family members and friends spoke, Medzie cried.
They described her as a “good person,” “a compassionate, kind person” and “the sweetest, most kind person.”
Her mother was crying as she explained that Medzie “helps everyone” and never had any trouble in school.
Medzie herself said she is not a mean person and likes to help people.
“I don’t have a mean bone in my body,” she stated as she cried.
Ammerman acknowledged the support of Medzie’s family and said he had also received many letters that were asking for mercy for her.
“Some of these people think she is innocent, but that is not what the evidence shows,” Ammerman said. “It is very clear that for whatever reason, she shook and beat that two-year-old girl to death and has not admitted it.”
He stated that Medzie was only 18 years old when she moved in with Lauder and should have “stayed home and stayed a kid.”
Ammerman commented that one of the letters said that he would have to give a stern sentence based on the publicity for this case. “I never do that,” he said.