A Pennsylvania woman will spend 11 to 22 years in prison for smothering her 2-month-old son.
According to Lancaster Online, the infant died of suffocation in 2016 as he shared a bed with his mother, Jessica Harper. In a plea agreement, Harper pleaded no contest Monday to the charges of endangering a child and third-degree murder.
The presiding judge, Margaret Miller, revealed that she was hardly impressed by Harper’s refusal to admit guilt. The judge told the 3o-year-old that even though she had been handed out a prison sentence, she still remained miles away from genuine accountability and acceptance if she refused to admit that she did wrong.
Penn Live is reporting that Jessica Harper ignored a doctor’s recommendations about co-sleeping with her 2-month-old son. The mother of five from multiple fathers told investigators that she woke up and found out that the baby was not breathing. A post-mortem examination would later determine the manner of death as asphyxiation.
The boy was not the first of Harper’s children to die. In 2011, another 2-month-old baby was found dead on a couch. A Newark Post story alleged that the mother had placed a blanket over the infant. Police say Harper forgot about the child and was upstairs texting friends for hours.
When Jessica came downstairs and removed the blanket, the baby was “purple, cold and not breathing.”
Harper pleaded guilty to charges of first-degree child abuse and involuntary manslaughter for the child’s death. A plea bargain deemed the infant’s death accidental and Jessica served 85 days in confinement before being released. When she got pregnant again, Jessica was told by medical staff about the perils of sleeping in the same bed with her baby and made to watch videos on safe-sleeping habits.
After giving birth and while visiting a pediatrician, Harper was again warned about the risks of sleeping with an infant to which she reportedly replied that she “was going to do it anyway.”
Six days later, the newborn was dead.
As her sentence was read, Harper said her attitude had changed and that her remaining children meant the world to her. Judge Miller said it was a good thing that the kids were no longer under her care.
Jessica Harper’s case is not the only time that a child has died from co-sleeping with a parent. A Michigan mother mistakenly suffocated her baby after having too much to drink. A People story revealed that Leslie Neuman had a shot of hard liquor and four beers before wedging her child between the bed and wall.
In another story, reported by Hollywood Life, Vanessa Clark was indicted for smothering her 2-month-old son Tristan while sleeping. Her first son, Christian had died in similar circumstances. Monica Thompson, tragically suffocated her own child while giving birth to him in hospital. But USA Today is reporting that the 42-year-old woman sued the hospital for leaving her with the child without a nurse in attendance and while she was still groggy from narcotic painkillers.