A Lufkin couple has been indicted on a charge of child endangerment after their second infant in two years died while sleeping in their bed against Child Protective Services instruction.
Mark and Vanessa Clark, both 32, were formally charged by a grand jury last Thursday in their infant boy’s July 9, 2010, death, according to District Attorney Clyde Herrington. As for the grand jury’s decision to indict the couple, Herrington called it is a peculiar case as the couple lost another baby in a similar sleeping incident 14 months earlier.
“There was a previous investigation with another child by Child Protective Services. The first infant’s death was ruled (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome),” Herrington said. “In the (new) case, the child was about 3 or 4 months old and sleeping in the bed with the parents. They woke up and found him not breathing.”
Following the first infant’s death, the couple was given a course by Child Protective Services in safe sleeping practices, according to CPS spokeswoman Shari Pulliam. That information strictly states sleeping with an infant puts the child at risk for suffocation, Pulliam said.
Herrington went on to say that the infant’s death is neither a negligent homicide nor a murder, but the grand jury felt the parents put the child in danger by sleeping with him.
“We presented the facts to grand jury and they felt the parents put the child in danger,” he said. “It’s a really tragic case.”
The Clarks are out of the Angelina County Jail on $5,000 bonds, according to court records.
Endangering a child is a state jail felony carrying a sentence of up to two years. State jail sentences are served day for day.
According to information on the Texas Department of Family Protective Services website, almost 400 Texas babies die in their sleep each year either suddenly and without a clear explanation or due to accidental suffocation or strangulation.