GREENVILLE – The mother of a baby that was found dead in her crib last February took the witness stand today against her husband, Scott A. Webber, 29, of Greenville. He and his wife, 28-year-old Lauren K. Jones were indicted on one count each of Endangering Children, a felony of the third degree; and Involuntary Manslaughter, a first degree felony.
As part of a plea agreement with the state, Jones agreed to plead guilty to Endangering Children with the stipulation she would testify for the prosecution if Webber took the case to trial. The state agreed to recommend 90 days in jail at her sentencing which is Friday at 2:30 p.m.
Webber opted to take his chances by making the state prove his guilty beyond a reasonable doubt before Common Pleas Court Judge Jonathan P. Hein in lieu of a jury trial.
Jones, who is currently incarcerated at the Darke County Criminal Justice Center awaiting sentencing, told the court during her testimony today she knew giving their 16-month-old daughter the sleep aid ZzzQuil was wrong, but she was afraid of her husband who was allegedly telling her to administer the medicine during a time in which the baby was sick.
“Why didn’t you mention ZzzQuil until a May 2013 interview with detectives,” Darke County Prosecuting Attorney Kelly Ormsby asked Jones.
“I knew we had possibly given her too much and knew it wasn’t right,” Jones replied. “We had been giving it to her for approximately two weeks before, but I knew it was wrong to give it to her since it is for adults.”
The state feels the condition of the crib, in addition to the adult strength sleep aid led to the death of the child. The actual crib and items that were found by investigators the day of the incident was in the courtroom during the trial. Ormsby had Jones visually demonstrate to the judge how she discovered the lifeless baby the morning in question.
Jones also told the court she had told Webber she gave the baby a dose of ZzzQuil even when she hadn’t on a couple occasions.
“I knew it wasn’t right giving her that stuff, but I didn’t want to fight with my husband,” Jones said.
When cross-examined by Webber’s attorney, David A. Rohrer asked Jones what investigators told her would happen if she didn’t cooperate and tell the truth in a final meeting.
“They told me I would go to jail and lose my relationship with my son,” Jones answered.
Jones had reportedly not said anything about given their daughter the sleep aid until a toxicology report showed it was present in the child’s system.
The two-day trial will conclude today (April 9). Judge Hein is expected to review all of the evidence, including interviews and video testimony from the parents and detectives from the Darke County Sheriff’s Department, before making a final decision. A decision is expected next week. If found guilty Webber faces a maximum of 14 years in prison.