A 34-year-old Wichita father pleaded guilty in court to the tragic death of his 2-month-old twin son on August 30th, 2018. A sentencing hearing is set for January 22, 2019. This case is one the latest in which a parent is convicted in the death of a child resulting from co-sleeping. In this case, Kyle Kempton pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and four misdemeanor counts of endangering a child.
The mother of the twins, Christy Rollings, was charged with the same crimes. She was already sentenced to probation for the manslaughter charge and 24 months in jail on the misdemeanors.
The baby who died was 2-month-old Patrick Kempton. The infant was smothered when his father rolled over on top of him while sleeping together in a bed in motel room. At the time, Rollings was sleeping on the floor with the other twin baby. Both parents were found to have excessively high blood alcohol levels.
Although advocates of co-sleeping claim that it is a normative way of sleeping in many cultures, is safe, encourages family bonding and promotes breastfeeding this type of sleeping arrangement is deemed unsafe by many medical organizations.The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against parents co-sleeping as it has been found to increase the chance of death from SIDS in babies.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, approximately 3,500 infants die each year from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and accidental suffocation and strangulation caused by co-sleeping arrangements with parents and caregivers.
As was the case with baby Patrick, many infants are accidentally injured when parents roll over on top of them, pushing their small faces into a pillow or bedding, which does not allow them to breathe. A recent study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that infant deaths from co-sleeping have quadrupled over the last 20 years in the United States.
While most cases of death by co-sleeping are deemed tragic accidents,under certain circumstances law enforcement officials will find the parents or caregivers guilty in the death. According to attorneys at Keller Law Offices, “If cases involve alcohol and/or drugs, manslaughter charges are often invoked due to child neglect or child endangerment.” Even when one parent directly causes the death of the child by suffocation or smothering, the other parent is sometimes charged and convicted when it is found that both parents were drunk, as was the case with baby Patrick.
To reduce the chance of SIDS safe sleeping habits should be practiced for infants. The Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to place their baby to sleep alone in a separate crib or bassinet that meets safety standards. Babies should be put to sleep on their backs, there should be no loose blankets, pillows, or toys in the crib, and babies should not be exposed to cigarette smoke. The room temperature should also be kept comfortable.