A Colorado teen faced a judge in court this week to determine her sentence after she pleaded guilty to killing her young nephew. Jennie Bunsom, 18, shocked the Denver community when she was arrested for the crime years ago. Now, she’s facing young adulthood behind bars.
Bunsom was 16 when her 7-year-old nephew, Jordan Vong, went missing on August 6, 2018. According to the Denver Post, the teen was “uncooperative and hateful” towards police officers investigating the disappearance.
At the same time, however, Bunsom’s Facebook flooded with condolences and sympathy from friends. Bunsom played the role of grieving victim, Chief Deputy District Attorney Julie Hill said at the June 23 sentencing hearing.
In truth, Bunsom knew where Vong was all along. Two days after his disappearance, Vong’s body was found hidden in Bunsom’s closet. Police arrested the teen the same day.
Police and court documents indicated that Bunsom smothered Vong by covering his mouth and nose with her hand for at least five minutes. Bunsom reportedly smothered the boy after he became upset that she wouldn’t play video games with him.
In March, Bunsom pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and tampering with a body.
Sentenced For Murder
“[Vong] was a joy to be around, he was a bright light,” Hill said at Wednesday’s hearing. The Chief Deputy DA called Bunsom’s attack “deliberate and horrific.”
Bunsom’s defense team called a number of witnesses who have interacted with her during her incarceration. These included a clinical psychologist, a behavioral health specialist and staffers at the Division of Youth Services.
The psychologist, Martin Beyer, described Bunsom as “emotionally delayed” due to a childhood rife with abuse, sexual assault and drugs.
Meanwhile, behavioral specialist Jessica Way spoke optimistically about Bunsom’s ongoing treatment, calling the teen “absolutely positive” and “very invested.”
Bunsom herself also spoke at the hearing, expressing remorse for her crime.
“Every day is a reminder of what I did,” Bunsom tearfully told the court. “There still has to be justice for Jordan, he was just a child. I took an innocent life. I have to pay for my sins.”
“This is a heartbreaking case all around,” said District Court Judge Ericka Englert. “Nothing we can do here can bring back a life that was lost, a life that was taken.”
Englert ultimately sentenced Bunsom to seven years in the Youth Offender System, along with a 30-year suspended sentence in adult prison.
“The court is giving you an opportunity,” Englert told the defendant. “I am going to take you at your word, that you will live your life for ‘good.’ I hope this provides you an opportunity for a different life.”