Conviction for Second Degree Murder by Child Neglect Upheld
Summary in 40 Words or Less: Parents can be convicted of second-degree murder for the death of their daughter due to Type 1 diabetes when there is a finding of conscious disregard for her condition and indifference to her condition.
In 2006 at age 17, Nanette’s condition deteriorated to the point where she again displayed fruity breath and Kussmaul breathing. Neighbors urged the Lathams to obtain medical treatment for their daughter. They ignored their neighbors and Nanette died.
The court of appeals also found sufficient evidence that showed the Lathams were indifferent to their daughter’s condition leading up to her death and therefore showed a conscious disregard for her health. The appellate court was keen on mentioning how the Lathams received training in 2001 and that in 2004, they had taken Nanette to the hospital for a similar situation and were further made aware of what to look out for in their daughter’s condition, so they knew what to do when their daughter’s condition reached a certain point.
The appellate court acknowledged evidence in the record that suggested in the final days that Gregory Latham attempted to treat Nanette’s condition, including providing her with fluids, insulin and food and monitoring her blood sugar. Mr. Latham also testified that he believed her condition was improving.
However, the court of appeals found, the parents knew quite well that the condition was life-threatening (from two prior near-death episodes in the emergency room with their daughter), yet they failed to take her to the hospital until she appeared to stop breathing at their home. Even then, they drove her to the hospital in their own car, rather than use an ambulance.
The facts of this case are extremely sad, but we post this summary to exemplify how a crime can be found by a failure to act. The apparent indifference and callous disregard that the jury found was enough to be a crime. In today’s world, having a sick family member, especially a child, can be extremely difficult to handle. Getting outside help can be critical. We do not know if the neighbors disliked the Lathams for some other type of incident, but it appears they were cooperative with prosecutors in helping convict the parents.
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