Maddeline Ovard

Maddeline Ovard

An Idaho Falls woman who kidnapped a woman, beat her and left her in Wolverine Canyon was sentenced to prison Tuesday.

District Judge Dane Watkins Jr. ordered Maddeline Ovard, 30, to serve a fixed term of three years on all charges. He also ordered her to serve an indeterminate period of 20 years on her second-degree kidnapping charge, for a potential sentence of 23 years.

She was given indeterminate periods of 11 years for grand theft, 12 years for aggravated battery and two years for aggravated assault. She was also ordered to serve 180 days for misdemeanor battery. The charges will all be served concurrently.

The indeterminate periods were longer than the prosecution had requested. Watkins said the case seemed like an episode of “Breaking Bad” rather than something that happened in real life. He said Ovard and her codefendant, Tabatha McKnight, basically left the victim to die, and she was lucky to have survived the ordeal.

Ovard and McKnight were arrested in April after an incident in March in which they grabbed the victim while she was visiting a friend. The kidnappers used her car to transport her to a previously unknown location. Bonneville County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Randall Spencer revealed in court that the location was the home of a man named Anthony Hoff, who has since died from a drug overdose. Witnesses also mentioned a third woman who was at the scene of the kidnapping with Ovard and McKnight.

Ovard reportedly beat the victim with a socket wrench and brass knuckles and shaved her hair off. She said the beating lasted hours and that her kidnappers threatened to kill her.

Police began searching for the victim after a man reported receiving photos of her with her face covered.

The victim said she was left in Wolverine Canyon in Bingham County. Her clothes were taken except for a sweater, a towel and a blindfold. She told the Post Register she kept the blindfold on to stop her face from bleeding. She said she was outside, exposed for hours before Bingham County Sheriff’s Office deputies found her. She suffered multiple skull fractures from the attack.

Spencer said he believed Ovard was not the ringleader of the kidnapping, and was manipulated by co-conspirators who told her the victim was having a relationship with her boyfriend.

Spencer said the kidnapping appeared to have been motivated by a dispute over casino winnings. He said a man who reportedly won $3,000 at a casino had asked the victim to claim the winnings because he had previously been banned from the casino for cheating. The victim allegedly claimed the prize, but did not give it to the man, who Spencer said is believed to be the ringleader of the kidnappers. Only Ovard and McKnight have been charged in connection to the kidnapping.

Spencer said the prosecutor’s office agreed to a plea agreement that limited the fixed sentence to three years because Ovard had been open with police about what happened. She had agreed to testify against McKnight and anyone else who was charged in connection to the kidnapping. He emphasized, however, that Ovard took the lead on the physical violence inflicted on the victim.

“She’s the one who took the brass knuckles and pounded her,” Spencer said.

Spencer also pointed out that the misdemeanor battery charge for cutting the victim’s hair was especially important to the victim. He said it may not stick out next to four felonies, but the victim was particularly upset her hair was taken by the attackers.

“As a man, I may not have appreciated that offense as much as I should have,” Spencer said.

Spencer recommended 17 years indeterminate for the kidnapping charge, for a potential total of 20 years.

Defense Attorney Neal Randall told the judge to consider that Ovard had mental health issues compounded by drug use that made her especially vulnerable to manipulation by the other kidnappers.

Ovard gave a statement to the court asking for leniency on her sentencing.

“I have a 14-year-old daughter, and it’s very important for me to be there for her,” Ovard said. “I think 20 years is a bit much. That’s my whole life, practically.”

In handing down a 23-year sentence, Watkins said the description given by the victim of Ovard’s actions was “mild.” He was also concerned that Ovard lacked remorse for her actions.

“I noted that in your statement there was no apology,” Watkins said. He told Ovard the responsibility for leaving her daughter was hers, not the court’s, because of her crime.

“That is a very unfortunate thing, that you leave behind this 14-year-old who needs you,” Watkins said.

In addition to time in prison, Ovard was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine. Restitution was left open. Ovard was given credit for time served.

A status conference in McKnight’s case is scheduled for 10 a.m. June 29.

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