Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mother accused of negligence in her baby’s death

Sara Agnew:

Nicole West

Both sides agree Nicole West had grown frustrated with her baby girl’s crying on the day after Christmas in 2005. For 20 minutes, the 6-month-old had been screaming while strapped in a car seat in a bedroom.

West, then 23, told police she had fed her daughter and changed her diaper. There seemed to be no consoling the infant. So she removed Deja West from her car seat, placed the infant facedown on a pillow on a bare mattress on the floor and covered her body, including her head, with an adult-size blanket.

What happened next was either an unintentional crime that followed months of indifference and neglect or the unexplainable loss of a baby’s life. West is charged with second-degree involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment and misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

It’s up to a Boone County jury to decide whether to convict her in the death of her daughter, whose lifeless body was discovered by the young mother two hours after placing the infant facedown on a pillow.

In an opening statement yesterday in Boone County Circuit Court, Assistant Prosecutor Merilee Crockett told a jury that after closing her daughter off in the bedroom, West spent the next two hours in the Quail Drive apartment. She said West drank two glasses of Southern Comfort whiskey, some Boone’s Farm wine and King Cobra malt liquor and smoked a marijuana cigarette while watching a movie.

"She made a choice that led to Deja’s death," Crockett said, "so she could drink and enjoy a movie and joint without being bothered."

Crockett said West didn’t check on the child again until her boyfriend returned home. During a 911 call, Crockett said, West’s voice appeared void of emotion while her boyfriend can be heard in the background, screaming and hysterical.

"Nicole is calm and collected," Crockett said.

Infant’s death not caused by SIDS, examiner says


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