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Kaylee Messerly: Mom gets 26-yr jail as 18-month-old girl dies from frostbite and girl, 3, loses feet

Kaylee Messerly's 18-month-daughter, Emma, died due to hypothermia, and her 3-yr-old daughter, Alena's feet were amputated due to severe frostbite
UPDATED OCT 15, 2022
Kaylee Messerly was found guilty of one count of felony child abuse resulting in death and one count of felony child abuse by a county jury in June (Moffat County Sheriff’s Office)
Kaylee Messerly was found guilty of one count of felony child abuse resulting in death and one count of felony child abuse by a county jury in June (Moffat County Sheriff’s Office)

MOFFAT COUNTY, COLORADO: A 36-year-old Colorado mother is sentenced to 26 years in prison for killing one of her children and leaving another one permanently impaired after they were deliberately exposed to dangerously extreme cold temperatures. On Wednesday, October 12, Kaylee Ann Messerly was ordered to serve 26 years behind bars by Moffat County District Judge Sandra H Gardner. Her actions resulted in serious bodily injury for intentionally causing the death of her 18-month-old daughter and causing dreadful injuries to her 3-year-old daughter.

Craig Daily Press reported that an autopsy report determined Messerly's 18-month-daughter, Emma, died due to hypothermia sometime overnight between March 9 and March 10. Emma was reportedly only wearing a jacket and did not have any socks, shoes, or head covering on. She was located approximately 130 yards away from Messerly and the 3-year-old named Alena. Due to severe frostbite, both of Alena's feet were amputated at the children's hospital. She along with her mother tested positive for methamphetamine. Among these 26 years, Messerly will have to spend 16 years in prison for the abuse resulting in a death charge and 10 separate years in prison for the abuse resulting in a bodily injury charge, successively. Following her release, she will also be required to serve an additional five years of probation. On March 11 last year, deputies were alerted about a suspicious vehicle near county road 54 in a remote and unincorporated part of the count at approximately 8 am, according to a press release from the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office. 


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The police authorities found it suspicious as “the road is not frequently traveled in the winter months.” The first responders located the vehicle on a service road upon arriving at the scene and found that it was unoccupied and “appeared stuck in the mud/snow.” A thorough search was initiated by the police but it did not result in any favorable outcome as no one was found. Additional personnel and resources were then dispatched to the area. 


Authorities were able to track Messerly and her two daughters one mile away from the vehicle after assistance was provided by Moffat County Search & Rescue and an aerial unit provided by Mountain Air Spray. “Messerly and the 3-year-old were found alive, suffering from environmental exposure injuries,” the press release said. “The 1-year-old was found deceased.” Messerly and her 3-year-old daughter were immediately brought to Memorial Regional Health Hospital. The surviving child was then airlifted to Children’s Hospital Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. 

According to KUSA, doctors claimed that Alena had one of, “if not the worst,” cases of frostbite ever witnessed at the hospital. Messerly reportedly said at the hospital that she and her daughter consumed snow near a methane well due to which both of them tested positive for meth. She reportedly had all the necessary clothes and multiple other items in the car which could have protected her daughters from the severe cold, prosecutors showed during her trial. Messerly also allegedly confessed that she was using meth right before the car got stuck. 

“Taking into account her decisions, it’s blameworthy without the admission of methamphetamine use. But when you add in the use of methamphetamine during the event, the culpability rises and the blameworthiness rises,” Assistant District Attorney Matthew Tjosvold reportedly said during the sentencing hearing. “Kaylee Messerly placed those children in those circumstances while under the influence of methamphetamines. A person in those circumstances not under the influence would have made different decisions.” The assistant district attorney also emphasized the fact that she reportedly knew that her car was unreliable while she went out with the kids several months ago during the extremely cold weather. Although Messerly chose not to address the court, Judge Gardner was reportedly triggered by her behavior and stubbornness. The judge chastised her for not accepting her fault and it played a major role to impose the sentences consecutively instead of concurrently. “Ms. Messerly still believes that she did nothing wrong, that this was simply a terrible accident,” she reportedly said. “I find that to be a very, very alarming state of mind", the judge concluded.