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Jury sentences Lynda Mescher to 8 years in prison

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TWC News: Jury sentences Lynda Mescher to 8 years in prison
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Video report filed by John Salazar.

A jury sentenced Lynda Mescher to eight years in prison Thursday.

Mescher received eight years for manslaughter, four years for serious injury to a child and two years for all other charges.

On Jan. 19, 2009, Mescher, a former camp counselor, was driving when her vehicle rolled over near the Grelle Recreation Center. At the time, five children from the Silver Trails Horse Ranch were in the bed of the pickup and one was in the cab.

Eleven-year-old Brianna Plehn died at the scene. Mescher was running the ranch where kids attended camp at the time of the incident.

The jury stated the sentences will run concurrently, but according to state law she's not headed to prison yet.

Texas law allows those convicted of a felony, sentenced to 10 years or less, to remain free on bond pending an appeal.

After the jury handed down her prison sentence, the defense attorney gave notice to the court that he will file an appeal the jury's verdict. Upon hearing that news, the victim’s family quickly left the courtroom, angry at Mescher’s legal maneuver to keep out of prison.

“It's terrible. It's ridiculous. She should being going to jail, simple as that. She says she has remorse. She doesn't. She's going home. Our daughter will never get to go home," father Karl Plehn said.

After the courtroom cleared, Mescher walked out a free woman.

The mother of the 11-year-old victim, killed by negligence, at the hands of her former camp counselor watched as Mescher hugged family members and walked out of the court room a free woman.

"Of course she's embraced with her loved ones, she gets to be free. She's crying for happiness. My daughter doesn't get to go home and be free. My daughter doesn't get to graduate. My daughter doesn't get to go to high school. My daughter doesn't get to go to prom. She doesn't get to do anything, but she gets to be with her daughter," Pinky Garza said.

Monday, Mescher pled guilty to one count of manslaughter, one count of injury to a child with serious bodily injury and four counts of injury to a child.

A jury heard testimony in the sentencing phase of the trial Wednesday and deliberated Thursday.

During the trial, an emotional Mescher listened to testimony and testified.

"I made a horrible, horrible decision and allowed those children in the back of my open bed pickup truck," Mescher said from the witness stand. "I drove at night to the park and lost control of my vehicle, and because of that accident, there has been a death on one child."

Mescher's brother also testified on her behalf.

Burnet County District Attorney Sam Oatman said Mescher is responsible for the young girl’s death and never wants to see this type of tragedy occur again in his district.

"We live an area where there a lot of horse ranches, a lot of Boy Scout Camps, Girl Scout Camps, boy camps, girl camps and a lot of counselors involved with kids," he said. "Regardless of the outcome, whatever the jury decides, a message is going to be sent out there in this area that I think is important."

Terry Proctor, the father of victim Megan Proctor, was in the courtroom all week. He said the whole ordeal doesn't feel like reality.

"This whole thing has been a nightmare; I'm ready for it to be over, even though it will never be over, especially for Brianna's parents," Proctor said. "I'm just ready to get this out of the way, especially for them."

Proctor rushed to the hospital after receiving a 4 a.m. wakeup call that his daughter had been seriously injured in an accident.

View News 8's John Salazar's report from courtroom Wednesday.

TWC News: Jury sentences Lynda Mescher to 8 years in prison
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