Thursday, 20 January 2011

SIDS: Florida: Jacksonville mom charged in her baby's death after 13 hours in a room with heat at 98 degrees.

 January 13, 2011

Charlotte Chesteen is accused of neglect in her infant's death.
Charlotte Chesteen is accused of neglect in her infant's death.
Prosecutors this week formally charged a Jacksonville mother with the neglect and death of her infant daughter left overnight in a room that broiled to 98 degrees because of a space heater.
Charlotte Renee Chesteen, 31, was initially arrested on a charge of aggravated manslaughter last month in the December 2009 death of Morgan Ashley Vandusen. The State Attorney's Office filed an additional charge of child neglect on Tuesday. Chesteen is free on $30,000 bail.
News of Morgan's death initially became public after Chesteen and Morgan's father, Quincy Vandusen, solicited donations on the website Craigs-list for her cremation. That led to a local television story about the effort, which raised about $2,000 for the parents.
An arrest report said that Chesteen found her 8½-month-old daughter dead in her crib at their Westside mobile home at 10 a.m. on Dec. 14, 2009, 13 hours after putting her to bed and last checking on her. Despite mild temperatures outside, a space heater was pointed toward Morgan and left on.
The arrest report said that police who arrived at the home found the room Morgan was in was 98 degrees. An autopsy found that Morgan died of hyperthermia and dehydration. A person suffering from hyperthermia has an elevated body temperature that can reach deadly levels if not treated quickly.
Chesteen told police her daughter was running a slight fever before being put to bed but was otherwise in good health. A doctor consulted by police said Morgan showed symptoms of being sick for at least 24 hours prior to her death and that "a reasonable parent would have sought medical attention for the victim," the arrest report said.
The report adds: "The unreasonably hot condition of the victim's room, the lack of parental supervision and lack of parental care combine to provide probable cause" for Chesteen's arrest.
Morgan's death had initially been listed as undetermined but was changed late last year to negligent homicide/manslaughter based on evidence, including the autopsy and interviews with a state child protection team.
Chesteen could not be reached to comment. A month after her daughter's death, Chesteen told the Times-Union she was traumatized by what happened and said she did nothing wrong.
"If they thought I abused my baby or hurt my baby, wouldn't I be in jail now?" Chesteen said.

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