Mom gets 24 years for selling infant for sex
By Teresa Auch Schultz email@example.com June 11, 2014 6:52PM
Updated: July 13, 2014 4:58PM
A federal judge sentenced a Gary woman to more than 24 years in prison for selling a child for sex despite his concern that the sentence was too light.
U.S. District Judge Rudy Lozano questioned both federal and defense attorneys throughout Natisha Hillard’s sentencing hearing Wednesday afternoon, asking them whether the sentence was too different than the life plus 55 years in prison her co-defendant, Christopher Bour, received.
“I’m worried about what message that sends,” Lozano said.
Federal sentencing guidelines had recommended that Hillard, who pleaded guilty in January to selling a then-4-month-old child to Bour for sex that they recorded, and the mandatory minimum sentence that Hillard faced was 30 years.
However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Koster filed a motion requesting to go below the mandatory minimum because of Hillard’s cooperation. Koster said Hillard not only told investigators the truth from the beginning but also told them that Bour had actually paid her for the child.
Without that statement, Koster said, the government wouldn’t have been able to prove the charges of selling and buying a child. The other charges would have been capped at 30 years.
“She wouldn’t be facing this 30-year mandatory minimum had she not been truthful with law enforcement from the start,” Koster said.
Her willingness to testify also likely helped Bour to eventually plead guilty, Koster said.
Hillard’s attorney, Visvaldis Kupsis, also argued that Hillard’s background, including an IQ score of 55 that puts her in the mildly mentally retarded range, should weigh in her favor. He presented a statement from a psychologist that said people in this range are usually gullible and easily manipulated.
“She’s damaged,” he told the judge.
Lozano expressed doubt that Bour wouldn’t have eventually pleaded guilty but said he would prefer to err on the government’s side versus sentencing Hillard too harshly. He ordered Hillard to serve 292 months in prison.
Hillard pleaded guilty to one count of selling a child for child pornography and two counts of permitting a child to take part in child pornography. FBI agents first became aware of her part in the crime when they saw her in several images found on Bour’s computer and believed she had even held the video camera at times.
They were able to track her down through Bour’s phone.
The two met through a dating site.