Las Vegas Sun

November 27, 2021

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Mom, airman sentenced in beating death of child

Dawn Mathiasen is going to be spending at least six years in prison in the beating death of her 20-month-old baby to death, although it was her boyfriend who killed the child.

Thursday's sentencings of Mathiasen and Nellis AFB Airman Brandon Parish focused on her because the jury that convicted him of first-degree murder already had set his punishment as life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years.

Still, Parish took the opportunity to apologize, telling District Judge Joseph Bonaventure's packed courtroom, "Words can't describe the way I feel."

Minutes later, after she had been described as manipulative, selfish and a liar, Mathiasen tearfully told the judge of the guilt and remorse she feels over the events that led to Samantha Storm's death on April 17, 1997.

"I trusted someone I shouldn't have," she said. "I didn't see the monster he was."

But testimony at the defendants' trial showed she had been told by Henderson police that Parish was believed to have abused Samantha on past occasions. Mathiasen specifically was instructed to keep the baby away from Parish.

But she took Samantha to Parish's quarters at Nellis and left her alone with the 21-year-old airman while going to get some fast food. While Mathiasen was away, the baby was slammed against a solid object.

"I could have protected her and I let her down, I know that," Mathiasen, 21, said as she tried to justify a lenient sentence from the judge. "She was supposed to be 3-years-old at the end of the month, and she won't and I did this to her."

"I don't care about remorse," Bonaventure responded. "Youth is no excuse. The baby is dead."

The judge noted that police and even a Henderson day care center took responsibility by dealing with the original abuse allegations, but Mathiasen didn't do her part.

"The message has to be sent that parents must take responsibility for their children," Bonaventure said before sentencing the woman to six to 15 years in prison. She must serve six years before she will be eligible for parole.

At the hearing, the judge had to contend with emotional advocates on both sides of the issue.