OTTAWA — A Lima woman charged with causing the death of her 2-year-old son was given a prison term here Thursday in Putnam County Common Pleas Court.
Jessica McClure, 26, was sentenced by Judge Keith Schierloh to seven years of imprisonment on charges of involuntary manslaughter, a first-degree felony; endangering children, a third-degree felony; and three counts of endangering children, a first-degree misdemeanor. (For purposes of sentencing, the felony endangering children charge was merged with involuntary manslaughter, as the two charges involved the same victim.)
McClure, who was given credit for 106 days served in jail while her case was pending, had pleaded guilty to the charges on July 12 at which time a pre-sentence investigation was ordered.
The charges alleged that on Nov. 7 McClure caused the death of her son, Matthew, at 23090 Road Q, about two miles north of Fort Jennings in southwest Putnam County. A coroner’s report indicated that the child died from drug toxicity.
Specifically, authorities charged McClure with failing to attend to prescription medication (trazodone and pseudoephedrine) — which did not belong to her and the child ingested. The pills were laying on the floor of the home.
Living conditions were cramped in the residence, according to statements made during Thursday’s hearing. McClure had moved into her mother’s residence with her boyfriend and four kids after having been “effectively evicted from her home,” according to defense attorney Alex Treece of Findlay.
“She worked a lot,” he noted during Thursday’s hearing. “She took care of her four children. She was tired, and didn’t always think straight.”
Schierloh related that McClure left the home and went to work when the incident occurred on Nov. 7. Her 18-year-old brother remained in the home, according to Treece.
First responders were called to the home later, finding the child unresponsive. The toddler was transported to Putnam County Ambulatory Care Center, Ottawa, where he was pronounced dead.
In a tearful statement, McClure told the court that she was “very sorry that this happened.”
Responded Schierloh: “Well, Miss McClure, the court has to look at the serious nature of this incident and your actions and inactions that took place with this. You’re a parent, four children, you’re living in tight quarters. These type quarters is part of that pre-sentence investigation report that had the pictures involved. These rooms of separation that you called it were essentially walls built of plywood ... that your 2-year-old twins were just set into, had no way of getting out, almost like a crib for a 2-year-old, correct? Clearly, you didn’t have the sufficient understanding or knowledge of what your own 2-year-old children were capable of doing because they were able to get out of there, weren’t they?”
Just before pronouncing sentence, Schierloh added that McClure — while she showed remorse “for the loss of her son,” showed “no genuine remorse for the offense.” Furthermore, continued Schierloh, she displayed no remorse about “the aspects of these medications — on how she got them, how she had them in her possession, how she kept them, how they were out,” and “how she failed to pick them up” after noticing them.
The three misdemeanor endangering children charges alleged that McClure had violated a duty of care and caused danger to her three other children — who were unharmed — as well.
The state was represented during Thursday’s hearing by assistant county prosecutor Katherine Porter, who did not make a sentencing recommendation before Schierloh imposed the penalty.