A Reynoldsburg, Ohio, babysitter who gave an 8-month-old baby boy a fatal dose of Benadryl last year was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Tuesday.
The Columbus Dispatch reports that Lori A. Conley, 45, was sentenced to 11 years for involuntary manslaughter, three years for child endangering, and one year for tampering with evidence. In July, Conley pleaded guilty to the May 13, 2016, death of Haddix Mulkey, who stopped breathing after she gave him an adult dose of the antihistamine.
“I want people know the good things about my son. That he loved ice cream and that he had just gotten his first tooth,” the victim’s mother, Katie Mulkey, told ABC News last year.
“Parents are supposed to go before their children. My baby went too early.”
Though Conley said her actions were “out of character,” Common Pleas Judge Julie M. Lynch didn’t believe it was the first time she drugged children in her care.
An unlicensed childcare provider, Conley was watching eight infants and toddlers, including Mulkey and his sister, on the day in question. A neighbor called 911 after Conley took the unresponsive baby to their house. Mulkey was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“Clearly, eight children was more than you could handle,” Judge Lynch said.
Though Conley originally told officers that she didn’t know how the 8-month-old died, she confessed to a friend that she gave him two or three Benadryl tablets and asked the friend what types of drugs are detected in toxicology reports. Conley also threw out the pill bottle.
“She indicated the child was fussy and she was trying to calm him,” Reynoldsburg Police officer Nikki Riley told WSYX. “She admitted giving him an adult dosage of Benadryl to the child.”
An autopsy report did, in fact, confirm that Mulkey had lethal doses of Benadryl in his system. Conley’s babysitting service was shut down immediately following the infant’s death, according to ThisWeek.
“I think everyone would be in agreement that [Conley] did not have a purposeful intention, that she didn’t wake up that day and set out to kill a child,” Assistant Prosecutor Michael Hughes said. “However, this was not an accident. She purposely and knowingly administered an adult dosage to this young child.”
[Featured Image: Reynoldsburg Division of Police/GoFundMe]