An American woman has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, after her 13-month old son drowned in a bathtub while she played Café World.
In September 2010, Shannon Johnson, a 34-year old mother from Colorado, ran a morning bath for her son, as she did every day. She allegedly then left him in the tub unsupervised, as she headed to another room to check status updates, share videos and play Zynga‘s casual business sim, Café World, on Facebook.
After poking around the site for an unspecified length of time, she returned to the bathroom. Her son was lying sideways and face-down in the water. Paramedics who arrived on the scene were able to revive the boy, but a Denver hospital later pronounced him dead.
This was not the first time that Ms Johnson had left the baby unattended. In a statement to police, she claimed that she had been doing it for weeks. Johnson claimed her child was a very “independent baby”, who often “wanted to be left alone”. She did not want her baby to grow up to be a “mama’s boy”.
Johnson’s mother said, mere days before the accident, she had warned her daughter about how dangerous it was to leave the child unattended around water. Johnson promised that she wouldn’t do it again.
The child’s grandmother had further reason for concern. A month before he died, the baby had a seizure. Doctors allegedly did not diagnose the cause of the seizure, and there had been no further occurrences, although Johnson had been given anti-seizure medication in case it happened again.
The autopsy report states the baby died of anoxic brain injury, cardiac arrest and drowning.
The judge told Ms. Johnson that he didn’t believe she was a bad person, or that she had killed her son on purpose, but that she was still guilty of a criminal act.
As the woman cried, District Judge Thomas Quammen explained:
“You left this little boy in a bathtub so you could entertain yourself on the computer by playing games.
“And you left that 13-month-old human being, little Joseph, incredibly for those reasons.”
Johnson originally pleaded guilty in March to negligently causing the death of her child. While the charge generally carries a sentence of between four to 12 years, there was still a possibility for alternative sentencing. However, the authorities decided this decision would play down the seriousness of her crime, handing down a sentence of 10 years in prison, with five years mandatory parole to follow. This is the fourth infant-toddler drowning in Colorado since January 1st.
Source: [surl=http://www.greeleytribune.com/article/20110415/NEWS/704159989]Greeley Tribune[/surl]