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Staff photo / Daniel Newman …
Sierra Yakuvik of Austintown is placed in handcuffs by sheriff’s deputy Ray McClain after her sentencing in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for child endangering.

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YOUNGSTOWN — An Austintown woman was sentenced to jail Friday for endangering her 2-year-old daughter.

Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Judge Anthony M. D’Apolito sentenced Sierra Yakuvik, 22, to six months in the county jail, five years of community control (probation) and completion of a four- to six-month program with the Community Corrections Association in Youngstown.

The judge accepted the sentencing recommendation but stated: “With the extent of injuries that this child suffered, it wasn’t just you not caring for her. It wasn’t just you not paying attention to her behaviors, even if she is autistic, or nonverbal.”

According to a police report, Austintown police were made aware of possible abuse to a 2-year-old on May 10, 2022. A 4-year-old also was living at the address but was not mentioned during Friday’s hearing.

Yakuvik’s daughter suffered right and left tibia fractures, a left radius fracture, left femur fracture, right eyelid bruising, forehead bruising, bruising to the left side of the left eye, upper and lower back bruising, lower leg bruising, bruises to the inner and outer thigh and a right-elbow bruise, the police report states.

The defendant had alleged that “arm-yanking injuries” were discovered at UPMC hospital in Pittsburgh, after she took the child there because the injuries had not gotten better, and she was not able to walk.

Yakuvic, of Westchester Drive, was booked in to the Mahoning County jail on July 22, 2022, after being indicted eight days before. She first pleaded not guilty; however on May 10, she withdrew her previous plea and submitted a guilty plea to the charge of count two, endangering children. In the agreement, the state dismissed her first count of endangering children.

FRIDAY HEARING

During Friday’s court hearing, Yakuvik talked about her circumstances and told D’Apolito that she appreciates his concern for her child’s safety.

The court also heard Yakuvik and her attorney, John Juhasz, speak about the child being on the autism spectrum.

“As soon as I realized that something was really wrong with her, to where she was not walking, I took her to the hospital,” Yakuvik said.

“And I’m really not trying to make an excuse at all. I can recognize my fault in everything. I should’ve been more careful,” she stated. “I should have paid more attention, but at the same time, she is on the spectrum, and it is hard to really understand what she is going through if she doesn’t physically show me.”

D’Apolito admitted that the lighter sentencing recommendation from former Mahoning County Prosecutor Kevin Day surprised him. However, “this case tests me in the fact that I cannot always impose upon the parties, including the state and the defendants, exactly what I want.”

The judge later added: “Even if the time in CCA is nothing more than restrictive of her liberty, then that’s OK with me. Because a year of restrictive liberty is the least I would give to her. So, whether there is benefit to it, is secondary to me. And there is benefit to it, by the way.”

OVERWHELMED?

Day, who is now working in Cuyahoga County, recommended a six-month sentence of probation, and CCA upon her release. He seemed to have reached the conclusion that this was “a case of a young girl who was overwhelmed,” according to Mahoning County Assistant Prosecutor Stephen Maszczak.

Juhasz stated to D’Apolito that “the note can’t be put back in the bottle,” and that his client has recognized her part in the neglect of her child. He further explained that Yakuvik claimed she fell down the stairs while holding her child, and they both sustained injuries.

According to Yakuvik’s attorney, the father of the the now 4-year-old child has no interest in the child.

“Ultimately, I think we have to be concerned about the fact that we have a child who is injured, but we also have to get a child back with a loving parent at some point in time.”

Since being in the custody of county children services, the child has moved through several foster homes, the attorney explained.

As another condition of Yakuvic’s sentence, she is not to have contact with her daughter for five years.

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