Plymouth parents who left U.S. after son's death get max sentence in neglect case

A Plymouth couple who left the United States after the death of their son in 2015, who were later charged with child neglect, learned their fate on Tuesday.

Sarah and Timothy Johnson, appearing for sentencing via Zoom Tuesday, asked Hennepin County District Judge Carolina Lamas for leniency and understanding about the death of their son in March 2015.

"We thought we were good people, we thought we were good parents, the reality is we got it wrong," said Timothy Johnson.

The state initially charged the couple with gross misdemeanor child neglect for the death of a 7-year-old foster son in their Vicksburg Lane, Plymouth home, known as Seth Johnson.

Those charges were filed more than a year later and by then the Johnsons had moved the rest of their family to New Zealand. Court documents at the time suggested the boy had been very ill but his death was preventable with proper medical intervention.

Prosecutors claimed the Johnsons had "issues going to doctors," preferring to care for their family through their own research and remedies.

Timothy and Sarah recently returned to the U.S. to resolve the matter and had a plea agreement with the Hennepin County Attorney's Office for a sentence that would not include any further time in custody.

But Judge Lamas rejected the deal and sentenced each parent to a full year in the workhouse.

"Often the mistakes that I see in criminal cases are momentary lapses in judgment or split-second decisions that are wrong," the judge said. "In your situation, however, the neglect lasted for a minimum of weeks, long enough that the child was in terrible physical condition by the time he died."