We all have our problems in life. Often they seem to be insurmountable, but there is no doubt, some of us are dealt a really bad hand.
I received an email a few days ago from Laura Sharman. Laura and I have never met, this was my first contact with her. She asked for my help and had attached a copy of a summary of a situation that she and her daughter, Stephanie, were dealing with and which is unfortunately only in the approximate midpoint of playing itself out.
The story begins with Stephanie giving birth to her baby boy, Brenton on July, 6th 2012. He was five weeks premature, weighing in at only 5lbs 10oz. There were many problems with the pregnancy, and Stephanie thought on more than one occasion that she might miscarry. She was in and out of medical evaluation and treatment sessions, but ultimately was able to carry him to a successful premature delivery. Brenton had a few bouts with illness, as is often the case with premature birth babies. Sadly, Brenton didn’t live very long.
On the night of August 30, 2012, while sleeping in bed with his mother, little Brenton passed away. At the time of his death, he was suffering from a sinus infection. The cause of death was listed as cardiopulmonary asphyxiation.
Stephanie awoke to find him in the same position he had been in when she had fallen asleep, facing her, but not breathing, his lips already blue. Brenton’s dad had been sleeping in the other room and it was his entry into the bedroom that awoke Stephanie. Sadly, there was nothing they could do. An ambulance was dispatched and Brenton was taken to a local hospital but the little guy didn’t make it.
The death of a child alone would be an unimaginably painful event in anybody’s life and the heartache must be horrible. But for Stephanie, the death of little Brenton is not the only element in her ordeal.
Six months later, Stephanie received a notification that the State of Tennessee is charging her with negligent homicide. The basis for the charges supposedly is that she has other children and should have known better than to “co-sleep” with an at-risk child or to allow the child to sleep on his tummy. The position of the State is that by virtue of being premature, Brenton was at risk for SIDS and that the mother should have known this and acted differently.
There was no autopsy conducted, and it is unclear how a diagnosis of SIDS was even arrived at. Brenton had a sinus infection at the time and according to my research, medical protocol seems to dictate that a SIDS determination is not made if there is any other existing medical condition or possible explanation of a potential cause of death. A SIDS diagnosis is basically a documentation of a lack of any determinable cause; that they don’t know what the reason for the death was.
From my reading, the SIDS diagnosis is exclusionary, that is if no other cause can be determined, then they will classify the death as SIDS. No cause of death is possible to have been determined in a SIDS death, as the definition excludes knowledge of the cause. How then, can someone be prosecuted for causing a death from unknown causes?
Upon what basis is the legal action being taken?
Also, if there is no apparent cause of death, did investigators rule out deliberate homicide? There were four people in that house that night, all of them had access to the child. None of the other occupants were interviewed regarding his death.
What kind of sloppy “police work” is this? A homicide charge is leveled against a person living in the house and other occupants who also had access aren’t even interviewed? This would seem to indicate that the investigating officers were biased.
The justification by the State for the case against Stephanie is that she was co-sleeping with her child. The State claims that the baby died because he was sleeping on his tummy with the mother. How can they say this with certainty? Do SIDS cases occur when the baby is sleeping in its crib? Yes, they do, or at least that diagnosis is made. The same is true with children who are sleeping in other positions and those sleeping on their tummy in a crib. Any combination of locations and position can exist during a SIDS diagnosis. So it is impossible to establish blame in Stephanie’s case based upon these variable conditions. It just cannot be done.
And further into the realm of the impossible, is the required determination in criminal cases of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This action flies in the face of reasonable doubt. The very diagnosis of SIDS is based upon a suspicion rather than physical evidence, it is a best guess and little more.
How do you convict or even indict a person, much less a grieving parent based upon a criterion of a “best guess?”
The State of Tennessee is also required by their own statute to administer a SIDS awareness presentation to parents of premature birth children. The State didn’t fulfill its legally-mandated duty to inform her of the State’s requirements prior to Brenton’s death. If anyone is culpable, look to the State of Tennessee. They gave the presentation for SIDS to Stephanie in Spanish. Stephanie is an English speaking American. A presentation in another language equals no presentation at all.
But the facts argue for simplicity in this case. She cannot be blamed for something for which a cause cannot be determined and she shouldn’t be prosecuted for it. If, as is generally the case, any other medical condition, such as the sinus infection, is the factor which should have been listed on the death certificate, how can she be being charged as she is?
Additionally, as if this mother hasn’t suffered enough, the State is threatening to take away her other children as well. They will likely place them into foster care and deem her to be an unfit parent if she is convicted of these charges. She will have lost all of her children and be incarcerated for what cannot be proven to be any crime at all.
There is an evil at work in many of the governments of the United States, an evil which seeks to destroy the family and usurp the parental role through government agencies. They work to supplant parents and brainwash their children into loyal servants of their government masters. The Department of Education indoctrinates them, the Department of Health and Human Services seeks to care for them, along with handouts from the government for food, medicine and other necessities. Parents in America cannot even discipline their children anymore without running the risk of having their children stolen by the state.
This case should never go to trial. This lady should be free to get on with her life. The State of Tennessee needs to put an end to the harassment and victimization of a family that has already suffered way too much. Is Tennessee pride going to cloud Tennessee good judgment?
This article is based upon information provided to the author by Laura Sharman and the research on the topic conducted by the author, a layperson in the topics discussed. Those wishing to contact Laura Sharman may do so at their petition site here.
Rick Wells is a conservative libertarian author who contributes to popular online conservative media outlets. You can follow Rick on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Rick-Wells/1405080846374047?ref=hl