Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jurors Urge Further Inquiry in Baby's Death

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jurors Urge Further Inquiry in Baby's Death

Article excerpt

A coroner's jury in Madison County called Wednesday for more investigation of an infant's death in Granite City last month, terming it the result of "extreme neglect."

The jury ruled the death of 6-week-old Denise Farney on Aug. 9 an accidental suffocation. Her mother, Roberta Keith, 26, testified that the baby apparently had rolled against her while they slept on the sofa.

Keith testified that she had been drinking and was uncertain how the baby got out of her safety seat and so close to Keith's leg as she sat on the sofa and slept. Keith said she hoped her daughter's death would serve as a warning to other parents about the dangers of "layover deaths," the term used when an infant is accidentally suffocated while sleeping with an adult or older child. Denise Farney was the fifth "layover death" in Madison County this year, leading the coroner's office to issue a similar warning to parents about sleeping with their infants. After the inquest Wednesday, some of the jurors told Coroner Dallas M. Burke that they were unsure what had really happened in the case. The jurors returned a verdict of accidental asphyxiation, which agreed with the pathologist's conclusion. But then the jurors added that the death was "due to extreme neglect, and we recommend that this case be further investigated by the state's attorney." Assistant State's Attorney Amy Maher said the investigation continued, and that she appreciated the jurors' recommendation and concerns. She noted that Keith's 14-month-old daughter had been placed in custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. She called the death "a complicated case" that raised concerns about "the level of care the children were obtaining." As Keith hurriedly left the courthouse, she said she was confused by the jurors' comments. "I don't understand it," she said. …

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