A Huntingburg woman involved in the death of a 2-month-old baby in February has been sentenced as part of a plea agreement completed on September 28.
Rachelle N. Childree, 27, of 217 N. Arjem St., Huntingburg, pleaded guilty to a Level 3 felony count of neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury. Pursuant to the agreement, a Level 1 felony count of neglect of dependent resulting in a death was dismissed.
According to court records, police were called to 217 N. Arjem for an unresponsive child on November 29, 2016, at about 2:56 p.m. When Memorial Hospital Emergency Medical Services and Huntingburg First Responders arrived at the apartment there, they found a 2½-month-old female infant that had passed away.
The Dubois County Coroner’s office was contacted along with Huntingburg Police Detective/Sergeant Christian L. Gogel. According to Gogel, he and the Dubois County Department of Child Services opened an investigation into the cause of death of the infant who was in the care of Rachelle N. Childree, 26, of that address.
According to Gogel, Childree was watching the infant in her home along with two of her children. The infant was not related to Childree, he said.
Court records indicate that Childree told police she laid the infant down after she fell asleep while eating sometime between 10 or 11 a.m. The infant was placed on a mattress covered with a thick comforter, police said. Childree told police she covered the infant with a blanket and then went into another room with her children.
According to court documents, Childree said she fell asleep, and when she woke, she went to check on the infant and found her laying on her stomach with the blanket over her face. The infant was unresponsive, and Childree immediately called 9-1-1. That call was made at 2:55 p.m. according to court documents.
Emergency dispatch coached Childree through steps to take with the unresponsive child, but Childree was unable to perform CPR on the infant, said court documents.
A subsequent autopsy by Dr. James Jacobi ruled the infant’s death as accidental and attributed it to asphyxiation due to unsafe sleeping conditions (soft bedding under the infant’s face in an adult bed) for the infant.
The case had been scheduled for jury trial September 26.
According to the agreement, Childree will be on supervised probation for the remainder of the seven years sentenced by the judge. The suspended sentence come at victim’s family request for Childree not to have to serve additional jail time.
Childree will also have to complete mental health and substance abuse evaluations and satisfactorily complete any recommended treatment plans. She is directed to not have any contact with the victim’s family as well as pay $2,011.65 in restitution which will be to cover burial expenses and a tombstone. She is also precluded from babysitting while on probation.
Childree also pleaded guilty to a Class A misdemeanor count of theft for her participation in the theft of a lawn mower from a Jasper resident’s property in August. The count was dropped from a Level 6 felony count as part of the agreement. Since her sentence for the theft had already been served while she was lodged in the security center, the sentence was only two days more.