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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

22 Years for Adoption Death

A woman who was found guilty of beating her 2 1/2-year-old adopted Russian son to death with wooden spoons was sentenced to 22 years in prison by a judge in Greeley, Colorado.

Renee Polreis was found guilty in July of felony child abuse in the death of her son, David.

Her lawyers argued that the boy was not beaten to death but died as a result of a syndrome called "reactive attachment disorder'' that made him impossible to control, regularly prone to tantrums and so filled with anger that he routinely inflicted bruises on himself.

She testified Monday before District Judge Roger Klein that she did not know exactly how her son died.

"I can't tell you that I know 100 percent what happened,'' she said at the sentencing hearing. Polreis has consistently refused to talk about the events that led up to David's death and has continued to say he was a "manipulator'' and that she was not responsible for his death.

District Attorney Al Dominguez, who had asked the judge to hand down the maximum 48-year sentence, said Monday: "It's really tragic. Unfortunately, this woman is going to prison and a young child who is still alive is losing his mother. What is more tragic is the death of a little boy who died in a very brutal and painful manner.''

David died in February 1996 with 90 percent of his body covered in bruises. Emily Dobyns, a North Colorado Medical Center physician, called it one of the worst beatings she had ever seen.

Polreis and her husband, Dave, adopted David six months before his death from an Tula orphanage in Central Russia. The couple has another adopted son, Isaac, who is several years older than David.

On the day David died, Polreis called her mother, her best friend and two of her therapists before she called for an ambulance. According to testimony in her trial, she told one of those therapists she had "done something bad'' to David, that she "had just lost it.''

Her lawyers said David's injuries were not from a beating with the broken wooden spoons police found in the family's trash can but were caused by his self-mutilating behavior. They claimed this behavior was a result of reactive attachment disorder, a condition being diagnosed in children deprived of emotional stimulation while in an orphanage. Polreis has 45 days to appeal the sentence. She was denied bail and is being held in Weld County Jail.

Belarus has barred Swedish couples from adopting its children for now because of an investigation into alleged abuse by the adoptive parents of a 6-year-old girl, a government spokesman said Tuesday, Reuters reported.

"We are worried about evidence of a rape of a girl. A government working group is going to Sweden," said the head of the Education Ministry's administration, Georgy Butrim.

Butrim, noting that 100 child victims of physical abuse had committed suicide in Belarus last year, said Belarus would continue with its foreign adoption program.