The Iowa mother who was accused of leaving her four children home alone while she took a trip to Germany last year was sentenced to probation Thursday on child endangerment charges.
Erin Lee Macke, 31, avoided up to eight years in prison for multiple counts of child endangerment and instead will spend two years on probation, a Polk County district judge ruled, the Des Moines Register reported.
Earlier this year, Macke agreed to a guilty plea. In the plea, she did not admit guilt, but acknowledged that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict her.
As part of the deal, prosecutors also dropped one count of making a firearm available to a person under the age of 21.
According to authorities, on Sept. 21 police found Macke’s four children, ages 6 to 12, home alone after the father of one of the children received a call that she was taking off for Europe.
Court documents said that Macke intended to leave the children alone from Sept. 20-22 until her brother could start caring for them. She was scheduled to return Oct. 1.
For those two first days of the trip, the mother had arranged for a neighbor to check on the children three times a day, the newspaper reported, citing court documents.
Authorities contacted Macke while she was in Germany and demanded she return home immediately.
Currently there is a no contact order that prevents Macke from seeing or speaking with her children, other than during supervised phone calls. A Linn County judge earlier this month granted primary custody of the two younger children to their father, Matthew Macke, Erin's ex-husband.
There is another ongoing court case regarding custody of Macke’s other two children, whom she had with Matthew McQuary, who lives in Texas.
“Erin’s decision to leave the children was intentional, done knowingly and she has not accepted any responsibility and continued to place blame on everyone else,” Matthew Macke said in a victim impact statement in court.
Via a victim advocate, McQuary echoed many of Matthew Macke’s arguments, saying that Macke did not “feel any remorse or responsibility for her actions.”
Judge Carol Egly kept the no contact order in place Thursday, but suggested lawyers arrange counseling for Macke as a prerequisite for modifying the order to allow some contact between her and her children.
“I believe these children need to have some sort of direct contact with their mother as soon as possible,” she said, according to the Des Moines Register.
Macke’s lawyer, who did not comment following the sentencing, said his client made a mistake and should be allowed to rectify it.