Louisiana mother is facing negligent homicide charges after he 1-year-old infant was killed in a car crash. The baby and mother were passengers inside of the car that was hit by an off-duty cop. Sounds confusing? Let’s get into the story.
Last October, Baton Rouge cop Christopher Manuel was driving 94 miles per hour when he ran into into a 2002 Nissan Rogue. Mother Brittany Stephens along with her 1-year-old daughter Seyaira were inside of the Nissan when it was struck by Manuel’s Corvette.
Stephens and her daughter were two of eight people inside of the Nissan Xterra that someone else was driving, and after investigating the accident, the mother was ultimately charged. They discovered that Seyaira’s car seat was not secured properly and had been wedged in between the driver’s seat and front passenger’s seat on the console.
Ms. Stephens was riding in the back when Manuel hit the passenger side of the vehicle, causing it to flip over. Manuel was discovered to not be under the influence. He was placed on paid administrative leave at the time of the accident, arrested in mid-February, and charged with negligent homicide and speeding.
Though he was arrested, he is still on paid leave pending the outcome of a termination hearing. According to The Advocate, the police chief will have the final say over whether he will continue to be employed.
Stephens was arrested on February 28th after a long police investigation, but prosecutors have not yet decided whether to move forward with the seatbelt or homicide charges. What is concerning to legal experts in the state is that the mother is being charged in her child’s death even though she was not responsible for the accident.
One of the questions is how could anyone determine if the baby would have survived the crash if her seat was buckled in. A Louisiana law professor and a public defender have characterized the arrest as “unusual” and “overreaching”, as well as being a form of punishment for the mother.
Only in rare cases are parents charged and prosecuted for murder when their children aren’t properly secured in seatbelts. It has to be proven that they intended to cause their child harm by their actions. It makes you wonder who would be held responsible for children unsecured in school buses and taxis.
At the time of the accident, baby Seyaira was taken to a hospital but later died of her injuries. Some of the other passengers were also treated for injuries from the crash but the infant was the only one who didn’t make it.
It was Stephens who shared with police that the baby’s seat was positioned up front, and she provided that information at the time of the accident. At this time, she is out on bail and both she and Officer Manuel are awaiting word from the district attorney’s office about which charges will be pursued in court.
Back in October, Stephens was interviewed by a local news station and was visibly heartbroken and upset. It is reasonable to wonder if she may already be living with a lifetime punishment. Time will tell what the law decides.
Do you think the mother should be prosecuted for the homicide of her child? How do you think this will play out?