Amanda Dawn Skelton, 28, pleaded guilty to the charge of criminally negligent homicide in the 40th Judicial District Court on Friday. The Georgetown resident will spend 430 days in a state jail facility after accepting a plea bargain from the Ellis County District Attorney’s Office.
Members of the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office, Milford Police Department, and the Texas Rangers were involved in the investigation of the incident that took place on Oct. 26, 2014. Upon arriving at the scene, law enforcement officers found a baby deceased inside the residence.
“At that point, nobody was arrested or anything because they didn't know what happened to the baby,” Chief Felony Prosecutor Lindy Beaty said. “The baby had an autopsy done. It was at that point that it was revealed that the baby died as a result of co-sleeping.”
Beaty stated that the medical examiner's toxicology test report revealed methadone was found in the baby’s blood system. The report concluded the drug was likely a contributing factor in the death in addition to the co-sleeping.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, methadone is an opioid prescribed for pain management. It is also provided through an opioid treatment program to treat opioid use disorders.
Beaty stated investigators tested Skelton’s blood, which tested positive for methadone. The Texas Rangers found no indication of a doctor having prescribed Skelton methadone.
“She (Skelton) had indicated that she was breastfeeding,” Beaty recalled. “That is what she had been doing before her and the baby fell asleep.”
Skelton was indicted by an Ellis County grand jury on Dec. 22, 2015. The Texas Rangers arrested her on an after indictment warrant on Oct. 31, 2016. The first date for trial in the case was set for October 2017, but due to a witness being unavailable, the trial was moved to February.
According to court records from the Ellis County District Clerk's Office, Skelton rejected a plea bargain agreement from the district attorney’s office on April 20, 2017. In that deal, she was offered 365 days in a state jail facility and no fine.
“In addition to this, she had some Dallas County drug cases that were pending. So they got to her first,” Beaty stated. “So she was already serving two five-year sentences out of Dallas County for some drug cases.”
Jury selection in the case was set to start on Monday, Feb. 12 in the 40th Judicial District Court.
Beaty explained the district attorney’s office hoped to move forward with the case because the baby having methadone in its body and Skelton was not prescribed the drug.
She stated that this presented an unjustifiable risk to the baby.
“I feel that it was a good resolution. We were going to have a hard time with one of the factors being the co-sleeping. That is not necessary criminally negligent per say because there are a lot of people that do that as a practice,” Beaty explained. “So for criminally negligent homicide, you have to prove that she ought to have known the risk and that a reasonable person would find that to be an unjustifiable risk. We were not sure that a jury would find that. We are satisfied that she is receiving a conviction for that and she will be receiving some state jail time for that.”