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February 25th, 2009
09:38 AM ET

Cops: Mom runs over son

Sandra Renia Joseph was charged with first-degree murder.

Sandra Renia Joseph was charged with first-degree murder.

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

There are cases that shock even the toughest of cops. The crimes that make hardened detectives sick to their stomachs. This is one of them.

A mother in Louisiana is accused of killing her own child. Investigators say the murder weapon was an SUV. And published reports describe the suspect as a former police officer.

The incident occurred Saturday morning. At around 9:15am on February 21, a call came into the Saint Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office. A woman said she was walking along a rural road when she noticed a silver Suzuki SUV with extensive front damage. She said the driver told her to contact the police because she had just run over her son.

When the authorities arrived at the scene, they say the driver said the same thing to them – that she had run over her son. They also allege she directed them to his body. The victim was found next to a barn near the road. Samuel Utomeh was 11-years-old.

According to the police, there were multiple points of impact that caused severe blunt force trauma to the child. His mother, Sandra Renia Joseph, was charged with first-degree murder. The 49-year-old is being held without bond.

The Daily World newspaper says Joseph was a Lafayette Police Officer from 1985 until 1990. According to the paper, she now works at the Louisiana Department of Social Services, which is in the process of suspending her until the case is closed.

The story has stunned many in the community, among them, Jimmy Darbonne. The Public Information Officer for the Saint Landry Sheriff’s Office says he’s worked in law enforcement for years, but has never seen anything like this before.


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
soundoff (207 Responses)
  1. Jim

    Vera,
    I categorically disagree with you on all counts. Killing an 11 year old is dyadically equivalent to aborting a baby. It's unbelievable that we, as a society, are so morally bankrupt that we dare say one life is more valuable than another simply because one is 11 years older, isn't completely and utterly defenseless, and isn't totally 100% reliant on mom to breathe/eat for them.

    After which time, if she doesn't want 'em, can simply give them up to be nurtured and care for by someone who does.

    February 25, 2009 at 1:38 pm |
  2. Keith

    jynx- so becuase her child wasn't perfect and got into trouble it gives her the right to run him over. Afraid not that excuse doesn't work. She took matters into her own hands and ran down her own child. She needs to pay for the crime.

    February 25, 2009 at 1:38 pm |
  3. Russ

    So are we going to be subjected to a defense of PTSD or menstral cycle abnormalities??? Was the mother ever chased by her mother with a car????Or was the son a "demon child" that had to be killed in the name of God???? By the time justice (if ever) is served we'll all be too old to care...

    February 25, 2009 at 1:35 pm |
  4. Lindsay

    I am so sick and tired of these pathetic parents playing God w/ their childrens' lives....who gave them the right to do this.....I am a mother of a beautiful son and I would absolutely die if something ever happened to my son.....my son is the most precious thing in my life and he is the best both of my husband and I.....

    February 25, 2009 at 1:33 pm |
  5. Jae

    I agree that any time a child dies it's horrible and a loss to those who loved the child regardless of the circumstances.
    However, what many people don't understand is that this world is going to end and God will be back sooner than we think. Women have gotten so outside of who and what they are until they are doing things that are just too horrible to describe. Women have gotten so brazen and bold until the fathers are no longer with the family.
    "Jynx–i am from St. Landry Parish, and what the article doesn’t tell you is that Samuel was a bad egg, starting fights, always getting in trouble, not listening to authority, mother could not control kid any more. they got into a fight after he would not obey, and well you know the result. I am not saying she is right, she is definitly wrong. But Samuel was not a good kid."
    Where is the father and why wasn't he a part of his life? As a mother, there are things only a father can teach his son and one of the things that most boys don't do is....FEAR their mother. If the fathers were there I can almost guarantee that this wouldn't have happened! There is no way an 11 years old boy should be out of control. I can guarantee that it didn't just happen. I'm sure Samuel had problems early and because they may not have been addressed this is the result!!
    In no way am I saying that if she's responsible she shouldn't pay but like the others I will wait for the WHOLE story before saying anything else. I know many will not agree with me but like all forums, we should be allowed to say what we think and feel without name calling or negative rebuttals. And also, I too, worked for the prison system (both male and female) for 15 years and know what she will face if that is the outcome.

    February 25, 2009 at 1:32 pm |
  6. Mark

    If my 11 year old shot my pregnant girlfriend in the face with a shotgun that he received from me for Christmas, I think I could definitely justify bringing about harm to him. 11 year-olds, while young, are not kids anymore people. We haven't heard the whole story, only one side. What if he threatened her life? What if he was about to shoot her? Let's get all the facts before we jump to judgment.

    February 25, 2009 at 1:30 pm |
  7. Eddy

    why don't they do the same to her, but with a big truck

    February 25, 2009 at 1:29 pm |
  8. Ralph

    Is the story about abortion? Is abortion mention in this story?NO, then why on hearth would you bring that up!!Abortion is not illegal, killing a kid is, that is the difference! Plus, i'd rather see somebody have an abortion than seeing that kid being abused and mistreated his or her whole life and then killed like a dog!! I bet the people who are pro-life are the first one who complain about all those people who keep popping out children and are on welfare!

    February 25, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  9. Peasel

    There are not enough facts in this story to effectively determine what transpired. Of course, any violence against children is heinous, but this is not something new. The folks that say "what is this world coming to?" are naive and uninformed. Abuse, murder, and violence have always been in human society. Just because there was no internet and media to broadcast it constantly doesnt mean that it hasnt always existed. Personally, I dont understand how anyone could hurt a child or an animal, but they do. Everyday. Can you imagine the violence and abuse that never gets reported? Peace

    February 25, 2009 at 1:25 pm |
  10. Laura

    I'm sick of listening of all this child abuse, and the killer or molesters always get away with murder. Insane, depresed, not job? Let give this killers what they deserve and quit seen them as a victims! These kids don't have a voice to defend themself. If we don't defend the victims, who will? Lets bring the Electric Chair and give them some of their own medicine. (and let them complaint "your way of killing me is inhumane")

    February 25, 2009 at 1:25 pm |
  11. Vera

    KR –
    You are on the mark. Big kudos.

    February 25, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  12. J.Crobuzon

    Hey, quit trying to make this about abortion or welfare or koolaid-drinking. It's about the voices in her head and the tiny little men who dance on her pillow every night. People get crazy and the first you know about it is something like this . . .

    February 25, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  13. Pammy

    Diane you need help.

    February 25, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  14. Dana

    My daughter has gone to school with Sam for years. He was a great kid. Very respectful, smart, kind. You could tell he future was bright. I have spent much time with his mother. She was very involved with her sons life. Never missed at a school function. An educated nice woman. I am still in shock over this. I felt like many of you, but now that I personally know the mother I wonder what went wrong. We are shocked and hurt in their home town.

    February 25, 2009 at 1:12 pm |
  15. BettyAnn, Nacogdoches,TX

    @Amy aka/kasey's Mom~ I am so sorry for your loss. I can not imagine loosing a child. My fiance lost his son right after we met. I don't think he will ever get over it but he is learning to cope. He says he is comforted by the fact that his son is not hurting any more.
    God speed and hang in there and be strong for yourself like you were for kasey. He would want that for you.
    (((hugs)))) and love

    February 25, 2009 at 1:11 pm |
  16. Kelley

    Easy, Vera. That was exactly my point and I agree with you. Deliberately killing an 11-yr old is not comparable to abortion.

    February 25, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  17. Lisa

    This is a sad time that we find ourselves in. There is something very wrong with a society that has to debate the fate of one that can take the love, laughter and life of a loved one. Maybe it is our fault for reading these articles telling of how family members are taking the innocents of their own.

    I would only hope from these stories that someone is vigilant in reporting any suspected child abuse.

    Corporal punishment does not have to be that expensive. My dad once said, "a rope is reusable". Now there just needs to be a good sturdy tree.

    February 25, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  18. Daniel Garcia

    This article is poorly written. Ok so we know she hit her son, but was it intential? It's implied due to the fact she is being charged with first degree murder, but what did she say to the police to make the DA charge her for the crime. I agree with some of the other who commented that she is innocent until proven guilty but that's not the point of the article. What did she say to the police to be arrested and charged?

    oh ... and the woman who said it's no different than abortion, get a life.

    February 25, 2009 at 1:03 pm |
  19. Mary

    Nothing should have made tis woman kill her own child. If things were that bad she should have turned the child over to the authorities for him to find a good loving home. It's a shame he did not deserve to die this way. This really breaks my heart because I love my child more than anything in this world and I would rather die myself then hurt him. God Bless you and RIP!

    February 25, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  20. J. C.

    Dori – this woman is not going to suffer in a cell block. There isn't enough suffering in this world for her. She needs to be executed – THEN she'll realize what suffering is when she goes to hell.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  21. Joe DC

    Jim – "This is an abominable crime. However, I am intrigued by the level of surprise and outrage. Women kill their children every day…by aborting them before they are born. However, there is little outrage expressed at these mothers. How is this crime so different from mothers who kill their children before birth?"

    Stopping a pregnancy by destroying a cluster of cells is entirely different from running down an 11 year old boy with an SUV. As this is a secular society, your religious views are irrelevant with regard to law. And no, I am not pro abortion or "pro death" – so please, don’t be an idiot.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  22. Dawn

    Wow, talk about projection! Please point out where exactly in the article child abuse is even hinted at. Fact: This woman killed her son with her car. Anything else about the circumstances of his death are pure conjecture. That being said (I suppose hoping that the point has been clarified is too much to expect), it is tragic that a child has been killed by his mother, regardless of the circumstances. The child was a CHILD the parent is supposed to be an ADULT whose primary job is protectig said child. Now, IF this woman could live a long time locked away with only her own remorse for campany, I agree that would be a very good punishment; however, I don't truely believe that it will bother her enough to be a punishment and why should taxpayers have to pay for the upkeep of such a sorry excuse for a human being?

    February 25, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  23. skyler petecki

    You know what if the articles said what would really happen, like maybe it would say why she really ran over him, and yes i know its wrong but a lot of people make mistakes you know what i mean.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:47 pm |
  24. Cheryl in NH

    TO – jynx "i am from St. Landry Parish, and what the article doesn’t tell you is that Samuel was a bad egg, starting fights, always getting in trouble, not listening to authority, mother could not control kid any more. But Samuel was not a good kid."

    Are you frigin' serious! THESE ARE THE ACTIONS OF AN ABUSED CHILD! "He was not a good kid." WHAT?! We don't know enough from the article but it sure sounds like murder, not an accident. (He was found next to a barn and the vehicle had enough extensive front-end damage for someone to report it! Sounds like she hit the barn with him in between the vehicle and the barn!) It is a parents' responsibility to protect their child...whether they have issues or not...and get them the help they need. He was 11 yrs old for god sake!

    That being said; "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." -Ghandi

    She should never see the light of day, and she should have to hear the stories of abused children in their own words over-and-over-and-over-and-over again for the remainder of her life.

    Just my $.02.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:47 pm |
  25. Vera

    Kelley,
    Actually, I think killing an eleven year old child is a million times worse than abortion. And, if you disagree, how many otherwise aborted children have you adopted? It's easy to say what is right, if you don't have to tow the line, isn't it.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:46 pm |
  26. Jersey

    Where's Al Sharpton on this one?

    February 25, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  27. Vera

    Drado,
    Your existence has been very sheltered. I would substitute your prayers for getting off your butt and finding where you can adopt an unwanted child. Maybe if you put your actions where your prayers are, there will be fewer kids abused and killed. And, as for "Maybe someone needs to run over you so you can feel what you put your child through, a child in which God gave you for a short amount of time! God be with you is all I can say!", how do you know that I haven't seen that world first hand?

    Also, everyone says she should have given him to someone who wanted him .... Duh, would that be like the kids in DC whose mom killed them and lived with them, or the mom in Md. that put the kid in the freezer? What system do you folks think exists out there – that is working – to help these kids? This Pollyanna crap is almost unbearable. Maybe you should just take a walk late at night in SE DC and see what kind of life some kids have to live? The religious types out there should have to show what they have done to help the unwanted before they go off with they holy molie crap.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:44 pm |
  28. Amy

    This whole thing just hurts to hear about. I lost my son 3 weeks ago to cancer. He was also only 11. You can't bring them back. They are gone forever. It just saddens me that this childs death was preventable. There is no excuse.

    ^Kasey's^ mom

    February 25, 2009 at 12:43 pm |
  29. Kelley

    Diane -
    Are you insane? Are you really going to try to compare abortion to running over an 11-yr old with an SUV?

    February 25, 2009 at 12:42 pm |
  30. dragon5229

    Very tragic event has happened! If this woman has done what is implied? Then let the gavel fall. Don't mistake my comments. But! Although it looks bad for her. I certainly am not saying she is innocent. I am just as sick of what goes on in this world as anyone else. Some are ready to put her to death. Only reading this article. My point is! Maybe that is what she thought about her son when this happened? Her thoughts, Your thoughts. Think about it a few minutes!! I'll come to you I hope. God Bless You All and May He Keep You Safe!

    February 25, 2009 at 12:37 pm |
  31. KR

    Having read the news article and all of the previous posts I am struck by the shock and amazement shown here. She is innocent until PROVEN guilty in a court of law by a jury of her peers. Is that not what we as a country believe? Or has the drive by media suddenly become judge, jury and executioner?

    As with all the previous posts, I could no sooner fathom hurting my own child than I could fathom growing wings and being able to fly.

    That being said, I am amazed by the incredulity of the posts that can't understand that we have somehow become a throw away society. I in no way agree with this or know how to fix it, but the simple fact is for a while now we as a society have tolerated killings like this for years. If you are so incensed, do something about it; write your Congressman or Senator, start a neighborhood watch or after school program, volunteer at the local schools and churches. If you don' t get the response you like or wanted from your Senator or Congressman, vote them out. We as citizens of this great nation have a right and responsibility to question our government, be it Federal or township. The killings and abuse won't stop, but they can be reduced as long as we as one nation stand up and say; "I'm mad as Hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" and then DO something about it, not just lament the fact that it has happened.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:34 pm |
  32. sm lucas

    We can not sit and judge, only speculate as to why she did this vile act. Any head shrink will tell you there's a very fine line between sane and insane and some times that line gets crossed, if only breifly.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:33 pm |
  33. pxshashi

    It is important to understand the circumstances under which she was driven to this extreme step, before we pass judgement. The report does not tell her side of the story. However, it is obvious that she did not intend to escape the consequences of her action, something in the mother's favor.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:32 pm |
  34. G

    Diane, really? No different than abortion? Come on, I hope you've acheived a high enough level of education to distinguish the difference.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:32 pm |
  35. LA Resident

    This mother hit her son several times with her vehicle. If you could see the photos of the metal barn where her son was repeatedly struck, you to would understand why the death penalty is needed.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:27 pm |
  36. Diane

    It's no different than abortion.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:25 pm |
  37. jk barnwell

    Greif, this case should put her in jail for the rest of her life
    Child abuse will not be accepted in any place on this world.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:24 pm |
  38. BlazE

    i truly wonder about my fellow human beings, although some, like this so called woman is truly not human at all, there is NO EXCUSE at all to harm your own flesh and blood, especially in such a manner. LORD, I ASK FOR FORGIVNESS FOR FEELING THIS UTTER HATRED FOR THIS WOMAN AND THOSE LIKE HER, LORD PLEASE GRANT THE STRENGTH FOR THIS WOMANS FAMILY, LORD KEEP THEM IN YOUR PRAYERS. i've come to realize that people truly need JESUS in their lives, that's whats wrong with the world.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:23 pm |
  39. G

    You people are weak. Your prayers didn't prevent this or help this, nor will it stop future abuses. Stop being so shocked at what people are capable of; open your eyes, in comparison to some of the crimes that have been committed in this world in recent times, this pales in comparison. Unless you're involved first-hand with this investigation, you do not have all the facts – so do your best not to pass judgement.

    Finally – if you're going to post on a public site, can you please learn proper usage of grammar, and stop butchering the English language with your typos? Apauling? Really?

    February 25, 2009 at 12:22 pm |
  40. Pam

    We just don't care anymore, about anyone or anything. It's all me, me, me. Since she is of baby boomer age, you would think she understood consequences to actions; obviously she wasn't taught that growing up.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:22 pm |
  41. La girl

    This is very sad story. I am local to this and it has touched many of us in the area. Please pray for the family who now has the loss of family to deal with and also to deal with the many feelings that come along with such a violent act upon your own family member. I did read on a local article this woman said she meant to this. She said he was out of control and didnt know what to do any longer. No excuse what so ever for this action! Pray for the correct punishment of her crime and the family that has to mourn this.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:22 pm |
  42. JUST ME

    She should die as well. My thought is if you take a life your life should be taken as well.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:21 pm |
  43. Heather,ca

    What was it that was so bad that compelled her to kill her own child? There are people in this country who cant have children of their own who would give anything to be worthy to adopt a child. I just dont understand this. It seems to me that people in this great country of ours need to understand that having a child is both a privledge and honor. Not a right. You have to have your head on straight and know that your child comes before you for life and that you must be selfless not selfish. Children are defenseless and are completely and totally dependent on their parents for everything. This little boy had a future ahead of him.His life mattered. He had friends and dreams. Now all that is left is what could have been possible in his future and we will never know. It goes without saying that the mother has serious mental problems. No one put a gun to her head and forced her to kill her child. This is so very very sad.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:20 pm |
  44. carrie

    If this woman had gone into an abortion clinic 11yrs ago we would be singing a different tune. Oh how brave she was and what a difficult"choice" she had to make.Killing your child is killing your child no matter how you did it.It is amazing to me that we are so outraged by this person for killing her own child and yet in the same breath say women need a choice to let their children live or die by abortion.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:18 pm |
  45. steven scott`

    God will judge her for sure. However, i hope our criminal justice system "SOCKS IT TO HER!"

    February 25, 2009 at 12:16 pm |
  46. iseecar

    Jynx – Bad kid or not we are not a society that handles things that way. He was an 11 year old child and if things had gotten that bad, she should've screamed for help rather than run him over with a deadly weapon. Rarely are children uncontrollable on their own. Most often it is a combination of things, particularly how they are raised. Hopefully she will in the least never be parolled.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:16 pm |
  47. B

    Come on people! no where in this story did it say the child was abused. no where in this story did it say the mother "repeatedly" ran over her child. all this story says is that the mother hit her child with her suv, the child has passed, and she is charged with murder. nothing more. There was a post by someone who lived in the area that indicated the child was a bad seed. not that whether he was a bad kid in any way justifies his death.

    but it seems as though everyone has the mother off to the death chamber before any more facts are determined. Why dont we wait to see if this act was intentional or whether it was an accident before we put a needle in this woman. If it was her intent to kill her child, ofcourse she should suffer the consequences. But how can we jump to that conclusion after reading a 7 paragraph article that had little to no facts.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:13 pm |
  48. felicha from florida

    You know what,

    This draws the line for me!!!!

    If there is nothing I hate more it's a monster who hurts children!!

    WHY, WHAT ON EARTH ARE THEIR CRIMES, WHAT ARE OUR CHILDREN DOING TO DESERVE THIS KIND OF TREATMENT.

    I PERSONALLY THINK THAT CHILDREN BELONGS TO ALL OF US AND WE ARE TO PROTECT AND LOVE THEM.

    THIS IS WHY THEIR STATURE IS SO CLOSE TO THE GROUND BECAUSE WE HAVE TO LITERALLY PICK THEM UP....

    LORD ALMIGHTY ABOVE I PRAY IN YOUR NAME TO SAVE AND DELIVERS US FROM THESE HEINOUS CRIMES...

    February 25, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  49. No one in TX

    Yaboy,

    Do you really think this "murder" or "accident" was God's will. God granted this woman permission to end her child's life? You're a fool if in fact that is your stand.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  50. lynda

    Kills me that people get away with stuff like this... I'm sick of child molesters and child abusers getting second, third, fourth chances and I'm sick of having to pay to "take care of them" while they sit in jail.. I'm tired of knowing that inmates are better off than some of us who are losing our jobs and worried about where our next meal will come from. They never have to worry about food, bills, etc.. KILLS ME... I say ELECTRIC CHAIR... right away.. not ten years later!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 25, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
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