CLEARFIELD — Jennifer Medzie, 22, of Allport, who was found guilty in August of criminal homicide — murder in the third degree for the killing of Sophia Hoffman, 2, of Woodland in 2013, was sentenced to serve 20-40 years at SCI-Muncy, a state women’s prison, by President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman yesterday at the Clearfield County Courthouse.
Ammerman sentenced Medzie to the maximum under the standard sentencing range. It was also the sentence recommended by the probation department. During arguments, Clearfield County District Attorney William Shaw Jr. said he agreed with the probation department’s recommendation, saying it was appropriate.
Shaw said Medzie doesn’t accept any responsibility for what happened to Sophia, making her a risk to re-offend.
Medzie’s attorney, Robert Donaldson of Hollidaysburg, said Medzie has never been in trouble with the law and asked her to be sentenced in the mitigated range, which is a minimum of five years in prison.
It was an emotional hearing with family members on both sides giving tearful testimony before the court.
“I ask that you give her the maximum,” Sophia’s father, Cody Lauder said. “She murdered my daughter. She ripped our family apart.”
Lauder was very emotional and managed to speak only a few sentences before breaking down. Ammerman allowed him a few minutes to compose himself and moved on to other witnesses while he did. When he resumed, Lauder asked that Medzie be given the maximum so she wouldn’t have the opportunity to harm another child.
Sophia’s grandmother and uncle gave tearful testimony, saying Sophia was a special little girl who will never get the chance to live her life and they miss her every day.
Several of Medzie’s family members and her pastor testified on her behalf and asked Ammerman for leniency.
Jennifer Medzie’s mother, Julie Medzie, sobbed and noticeably trembled while she testified.
She said Jennifer is her best friend and believes she is innocent. She said Jennifer has never been in trouble at school or with the law and would do anything to help someone out. She said her daughter also helped raise her nephews.
Julie Medzie said she and her family all love and miss Jennifer and asked Ammerman for leniency.
“I am begging you for mercy,” Julie Mezie said. “You are not just sentencing her, you are sentencing her whole family.”
Medzie’s father, Steward Medzie, also said he believes his daughter is innocent. He said Jennifer had just turned 18 when this happened and was still a child herself. He said he and his wife objected to Jennifer moving out of their home and quitting school to live with Lauder, but there was nothing they could do to stop her because she was 18. He also asked Ammerman for leniency.
Jennifer Medzie wept while her family and friends spoke on her behalf. When she addressed the court, Medzie gave a brief statement saying she isn’t the mean person she is made out to be.
Several of Medzie’s friends and her pastor also testified on her behalf. Donaldson also presented the court with numerous letters from friends and family, asking Ammerman for mercy.
Ammerman said this has been a difficult case where there are no winners. He said Medzie shouldn’t have moved away from home to live with Lauder and she ended up in a situation where she was the primary caregiver for a 2-year-old girl and she wasn’t ready to handle that responsibility.
However, Ammerman continued by saying the evidence presented at trial overwhelmingly shows that Jennifer Medzie beat and shook the little girl to death and said he believes Jennifer Medzie probably had abused the girl for several weeks before she died.
There was testimony during the trial that Sophia suffered from a number of health issues in the weeks prior to her death that could have been caused by abuse.
“It’s a tragedy,” Ammerman said.
Medzie was convicted by a jury of eight women and four men at trial last August. According to testimony at trial, Medzie was living with the girl and Lauder at his home in Woodland. Medzie was in the home alone with the girl on the morning of Nov. 15, 2013 when Sophia suffered multiple traumatic brain injuries, causing bleeding in her brain, which led to her death.
Medzie was found not guilty on the most serious charge of criminal homicide – murder in the first degree. She was also convicted of aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of children, simple assault, and recklessly endangering another person. In addition to her prison sentence, Ammerman fined her $1 on each count and ordered her to undergo counseling prior to her release.