Family fights against prison time for Monroe County woman who tied up son, set car on fire

Sherri Richter sentenced to 29 months to 10 years in prison

By Jason Colthorp - Anchor/Reporter, Derick Hutchinson

MONROE, Mich. - A woman from Frenchtown Township was sentenced to prison Thursday for trying to kill her son by setting him on fire twice.

Before Sherri Richter, 49, came to her senses and set her son free, she bought two lighters in case one failed. A year ago, she lit her Ford Focus on fire with her 11-year-old son inside at the Roselawn Memorial Cemetery outside Monroe.

When her son tried to escape twice, Richter forced him back in the car, tied him up and pour gasoline on him.

"I cannot imagine the terror that poor boy felt to know that his mother was doing this to him," Judge Michael Weipert said.

When Richter's attorney tried to argue intent, Weipert wasn't having it.

"I don't know how you get a better example of sadism, torture, excessive brutality or egregious conduct," Weipert said. "That is the worst I have ever seen or heard from a mother."

Richter, like in previous court appearances, was without emotion or expression even when the judge asked if she had anything to say.

"Yes," Richter said. "I want to say I'm sorry to my son, Cody, and family that I love very, very much."

The feelings were echoed by her husband.

"I feel like my wife shouldn't be punished," Gary Richter said. "It's really hurting my family. We just really need to get back together. Cody is really missing his mom."

Sherri Richter and her family were hoping for a long probation to allow her joint counseling sessions with her son, but the judge found that outrageous, saying he should never be alone with her again.

"Sorry to be so stern about this, but that is the fact," Weipert said. "Dad's obligation now is to protect his son."

Richter voluntarily signed away her parental rights, even though her family begged the judge to let her come home.

She was sentenced to 29 months to 10 years in prison.

The judge made a point to say this might not be a popular sentence in the court of public opinion, but he said many people don't understand all the facts at play, including family dynamics and clear mental health issues.

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