A mother-of-four from Iowa who left her children, ages six to 12, home alone for 11 days while she vacationed in Europe was sentenced to two years of probation.
Erin Lee Macke, 31, entered an Alford plea in February to four counts of child endangerment. Had the case gone to trial, she could have faced up to eight years in prison.
In legal terms, an Alford plea means that the accused person isn’t pleading guilty in a true sense, but admits that the prosecution has sufficient evidence for a conviction, according to the Des Moines Register.
Erin Lee Macke, 31, is pictured at her sentencing in Iowa on Thursday. She was spared jail time and given two years of probation instead for leaving her children home alone
Her defense lawyer (right) accused the fathers of Macke’s children of fanning the ‘drama’ around the case
Macke had also been charged with one count of making a firearm available to a person under age 21, but prosecutors agreed to drop it as part of the deal.
During Macke’s sentencing on Thursday, her ex-husband, Matthew Macke, told the court that it took Erin six days to return home from Germany after being told that her children had been removed by police.
‘Erin refuses to admit that her choices put the children at a substantial risk of harm,’ Matthew said.
After the hearing, Matthew told KCCI his ex-wife has yet to accept responsibility for intentionally leaving her children without supervision.
Earlier this month, Matthew was granted custody of the two youngest children, whom he had fathered. Custody of the other two older kids has not been decided yet.
Macke did not issue a statement in court, but her defense attorney pointed a finger of blame at the fathers of her children, accusing them of fueling ‘drama’ in this case, reported the paper.
Defense lawyer Michael Oliver had asked for a deferred judgement, which would have allowed the conviction to be expunged from Macke’s record upon the completion of her probation, but the judge denied the request.
There is a no-contact order in place for Erin pertaining to her four children, but Judge Carol Egly suggested that the defendant get counseling so that the order could be adjusted to allow her some contact.
Police have said Macke tried but failed to make child care arrangements for her kids – two 12-year-old twins, one child aged seven and another aged six – before leaving on September 20, 2017, for a vacation in Germany.
The father of one of the children was called by his child the next day, and he called police. The children were alone for 24 hours before family members took them in, reported KCCI.
Macke’s four children are pictured above on the first day of school in August. Her 12-year-old twins are on the left, and her seven- and six-year-old daughters are on the right
The 31-year-old is accused of leaving her children alone in September to travel to Germany
Macke took a picture of bratwurst during her first day in Germany in September
Police in Johnston, Iowa conducted a welfare check on Macke’s house on September 21, 2017, after receiving a tip that her kids were without any adult supervision.
They found that not only had the children been left alone, but that they had been left alone with a gun out in the open.
According to the criminal complaint, Macke left an unloaded Glock 9MM handgun on top of her dresser, next to two magazines – one fully loaded and one partially loaded.
The children told police that their mom had left for Germany the day before, and didn’t plan to return until October 1.
Macke is pictured here with her two youngest children
Macke is pictured above with her two oldest children, 12-year-old twins,
When police called Macke abroad, she said that all of her babysitters fell through so she decided to leave the kids home alone.
‘Investigators confirmed that Macke had made no arrangements to provide adult supervision or care for the children while she was away,’ the police department said.
Police told Macke that was unacceptable and ordered her to return home immediately.
But she only cut her trip short by four days, returning to the US in September 27. She was arrested the next day.
Photos posted on Macke’s Instagram in late September showed her touring Bavaria with a female friend and a baby, eating bratwurst and sight-seeing.
Public records indicate that Macke filed for divorce from her ex, Matthew, in 2013.
In May, Macke competed in a bikini competition, according to a post on her Instagram (left)
Another photo from the competition shows the 30-year-old mom-of-four on stage in a bikini
Macke, above, has pictures on her Instagram account showing her having fun in the sun