Saturday, 29 January 2011

SIDS: Idaho: Wyatt Greenough charged with infant's death by manslaughter

 KRISTIN RODINE - 01/25/11

Meadow Nickel turned 3 months old the night her mother went out for the first time since the baby was born.
But when Betsy Nickel came home — about 8 a.m. last Feb.6 — the infant was not in her basket, but in bed with Wyatt Greenough, Meadow’s father.
When Nickel could not find the child among the covers on the bed, she said, she panicked and started screaming. But even that did not immediately rouse Greenough, Nickel testified in court Monday.
“I was patting everywhere, digging in the blankets. I finally flopped his arm over and I saw … I saw … I found her,” Nickel said, sobbing.
The baby was covered by a thick white comforter, with Greenough’s arm on top of her and her faced pressed up against and under him.
“She was still pink, so I thought she was alive, but when I looked in her eyes they were just blue and glossy,” Nickel said. “She was just gone.”
Greenough, 26, sat solemnly in a blue suit, blinking often as testimony began in his involuntary manslaughter trial.
Deputy Canyon County Prosecutor Ty Ketlinski said Greenough acted recklessly when he drank heavily and then took the child into the bed with him — after telling Nickel he would not drink while caring for their daughter.
The little girl’s autopsy report tells a different story, defense attorney Lary Sisson said during his opening argument. He told the jury the doctor who examined the child will testify that Meadow’s death was caused either by sudden infant death syndrome or by “positional asphyxia” — a condition caused when an infant sleeps in an unsafe position, cutting off breathing.
“Was it a tragic event or an unfortunate accident?” Sisson said. “It was not involuntary manslaughter.”
Greenough’s mother, Carrie Robertson, talked to the Statesman during a break in the prosecution’s case, saying the baby’s death was a tragedy for all involved and that it is unfair to place the blame on Greenough.
“It was an accident,” she said. “They were both so in love with that baby. It was a horrible accident.”
Robertson had watched the baby earlier in the night, until Greenough got home from his late shift at work. He was not drunk, she said.
But Ketlinski, the prosecutor, said Greenough had stopped and had two or three beers with a friend after work, then picked up an 18-pack of Coors Light on the way home.
“When police came the next morning, all but seven of those beers had been consumed,” he said.
Nickel said Greenough had gotten drunk and rolled onto the baby in November, when Meadow was a newborn. After that, Nickel had demanded that he not drink when he was taking care of the child. She pressed that point with Greenough, she said, before she left to go out with a friend and stay overnight with her sister in Boise.
Ketlinski told the jury that Greenough is not a monster, and he is remorseful.
“But he was reckless, and that recklessness is a crime,” Ketlinski said. “That crime is involuntary manslaughter.”


Co-sleeping, in which a baby sleeps in same bed as his or her parents, has been the subject of much debate in the United States.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission have said that infants should not co-sleep with their parents because it is not safe.
Still, many parents do it because they say it helps with nursing and allows baby and mom to get better sleep.
If you have decided to co-sleep with your infant, here are do’s and don’ts from the March of Dimes:
• Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep. Babies who sleep on their backs have less risk of SIDS than babies who sleep on their tummies or sides.
• Always leave your child’s head uncovered while sleeping.
• Be sure there are no openings in the bed’s headboard or footboard where your baby’s head could get trapped.
• Remove cords and drapes from nearby windows.
• Remove strings or ties from pajamas — yours and the baby’s.
• Remove soft bedding.
• Place a tight-fitting fitted sheet on the mattress.
• Make sure that there are no spaces between the bed and the wall or furniture.
• Make sure your mattress fits snugly in the bed frame.
• Make sure there is nothing near the bed that could suffocate or strangle the baby.
• Never put a baby to sleep in an adult bed alone.
• Never place your baby on a waterbed, sofa, soft mattress or other very soft surface.
• Never place pillows, comforters, quilts or other soft/plush items on top of or under your baby.
• Never sleep with your baby if you smoke, have been drinking, or have used medicines or drugs that make it hard for you to wake up.
• Never overdress your baby for sleep or overheat the room.
Sources: and
Kristin Rodine: 377-6447

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