An Independence woman has pleaded guilty in the neglect-related death of her 6-month-old daughter, the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office announced Wednesday.
Deshelle Atkison admitted failing to seek medical care and failing to provide adequate nourishment for Betsy Atkison, who died Jan. 31, 2014, at the family’s home in the 800 block of South Park.
Atkison pleaded guilty to two felonies, child endangerment and abuse or neglect resulting in death, and was sentenced to 13 years in prison, prosecutors said. She will not be eligible for parole until serving at least 85 percent of her sentence.
According to court records:
Atkison admitted feeding Betsy only 6 ounces of formula a day and three to four bites of baby food a day for the four days preceding the infant’s death, during which time Betsy had been sick with what her mother called a cold.
After Betsy stopped breathing, someone in the home called 911. Detectives found dirty and stained sheets in her crib, and leaking trash bags and rat feces on the floor of a filthy home. In March 2014, the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office concluded that Betsy had died of pneumonia “due to sequel of severe acute malnutrition and neglect,” the prosecutor’s office said.
Atkison admitted not taking Betsy for medical treatment because she feared being accused of doing something wrong, and that the child’s father would try to take Betsy away from her.
“It is my hope that the senseless and tragic death of this innocent child reminds us, that as a community, our greatest responsibility is to protect those that cannot protect themselves,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in a written statement. “So please, if you, or someone you know, has any concern that a child is being abused or neglected, immediately call Missouri’s Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline toll-free at: 1-800-392-3738. Do not wait, because a simple call may have saved this child’s life.”