Aug 6, 2012 6:20 PM by Erin Schattauer - MTN News
The stepmother of three children who were not returned to their mother and instead illegally taken to the Bahamas was sentenced today to four years in the Montana Women's Prison.
Angela Bryant, 45, told a Gallatin County judge today that she knew what her husband was doing was illegal by keeping the children from their mother in Belgrade, but said she didn't volunteer their children's whereabouts to the authorities.
"If we were able to do so, I would prefer everything stay in the legal boundaries," Bryant said.
Bryant, who has been in the Gallatin County Detention Center after having her bail revoked, said she would like to return to Hawaii to work as an EMT.
While chief deputy county attorney Todd Whipple recommended Bryant serve six months in the Gallatin County Detention Center, Judge Mike Salvagni didn't think that was enough.
"I see no difference between the defendant (Angela Bryant) and the father (James Bryant) in the commission of this crime," Salvagni said. "She had the ability to make it right and she didn't do that."
Salvagni said the couple created new names and new identities for the children - ages 12, 13 and 15. They also reportedly instructed the children to call their mother "Aunt Kelly."
Salvagni read from a letter from one of the children that said, "To be honest, I would rather not talk about the months my brothers and I were missing because it's just too painful." She continued to say in the letter read by the judge that Angela Bryant instructed the children to stop talking to their mother and about going home. She also said that she missed her first day of high school, first prom and first homecoming while she was kept from returning home.
Court documents filed in Gallatin County say Bryant and her husband, James, failed to return his three children to their mother in Belgrade last August.
Court documents state that Angela purchased plane tickets for the three children from Miami, Florida to Bozeman to arrive on Aug. 17, 2011, but the children were not on the flight.
Earlier this year, police tracked computer IP addresses and found that James was living in the Bahamas with Angela and his three children. They were able to serve a warrant when they learned that Angela flew into Hawaii. The U.S. Coast Guard pursued Bryant's boat within a half-mile of international waters and arrested James in March. The children were then reunited with their mother, Kelly.
James Bryant has pleaded guilty to one count of parental interference. He was sentenced to serve four years in the Montana State Prison.