A Florida woman is facing aggravated manslaughter charges for the death of her 18-day-old baby.
Polk County resident Erin Piche-Pitts, 25, allegedly smothered her newborn son as the two of them slept inside of her bedroom, ABC Action News reports. According to the accused, the child awoke crying from a nap on October 6, which caused the boy’s mother to retrieve him from a bassinet and place him on the bed next to her. After propping the baby’s body up on a pillow and placing his head in the crook of her arm, she then fell asleep.
When she rose from her slumber approximately two-and-a-half hours later, Piche-Pitts immediately noticed that the child was unresponsive and not breathing. He was rushed to nearby Winter Haven Hospital but was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.
A Winter Haven woman was arrested for aggravated manslaughter. Her child died after co-sleeping. In 2009, she lost another baby the same way pic.twitter.com/hlb9FqXcbD— Julie Salomone (@JSalomoneWFTV) December 21, 2016
Incidentally, the passing of Erin’s 2-week-old baby was not the first time she lost a child in such a way.
In December 2009, while breastfeeding her then-13-day-old newborn daughter, Piche-Pitts fell asleep and accidentally smothered its small body underneath her own. The infant’s cause of death was noted as an accident “due to probable overlay and co-sleeping,” and Piche-Pitts was not officially charged with any crime.
Following the loss of life, Erin was ordered by a court to attend family training classes, where it’s said the dangers of sleeping with newborn babies — occasionally referred to as “co-sleeping” — were incessantly explained to her. She was also counseled by the Healthy Starts training program, a service offered by the Florida State of Health for first-time/young parents, in both August 2009, months before her first child was born, and in March 2016, several months before her second.
Additionally, the Daily Ridge relays that Piche-Pitts was in constant communication with her own mother, who took on more of an active role in her adult daughter’s life following the death of Erin’s first child. On September 21, 2016, just three days after her son was born, a doctor who performed a check-up on the baby inquired if she had been sleeping with her baby on her bed. Erin assured them that she had not.
Along with the manslaughter arrest, Piche-Pitts has racked up a number of criminal charges since 2005, including aggravated battery, larceny, and methamphetamine possession. Her most recent arrest, which occurred on July 16 of this year, saw her seven months pregnant with the child she most recently lost.
- May 10, 2005 – Arrested by WHPD for Battery Domestic Violence
- April 4, 2010 – Arrested by WHPD for Aggravated Battery
- August 14, 2011 – Arrested by PCSO for Battery Domestic Violence
- October 29, 2012 – Arrested by WHPD for Larceny
- April 14, 2013 – Arrested by PCSO for Failure to Appear, VOP
- November 21, 2013 – Arrested by WHPD for Battery Domestic Violence
- February 9, 2014 – Arrested by PCSO for Burglary, Larceny
- May 6, 2014 – Arrested by WHPD for Interference With Child Custody, Fraud
- July 16, 2016 (while pregnant) – Arrested by PCSO for Possession of Meth, Paraphernalia
A study from PreventNeedlessDeaths.com says that infants are 40 times more likely to die in adult beds than their own cribs or bassinets. Also, pillow-top mattresses, thick comforters, fluffed-up pillows, and stuffed animals are considered highly dangerous to place near or a below a newborn baby, whether in an adult bed or crib, due to possible suffocation risks. Parents are asked no matter how much a child under 3-years-old may fuss, make sure they stay in their own bed.
If found guilty by Florida law, Piche-Pitts faces anywhere from 13 years to a possible life sentence, as well as up to $10,000 in fines. As of this posting, there is no word on if the death of her first baby may tie into the amount of sentencing she receives. Moreover, mention of a father of either of the accused’s late children has not yet been publicly made.
[Featured Image by Polk County Sheriff’s Office]