Mother left newborn in car seat for 13 hours leading to positional asphyxia death: Prosecutor


Raeleigh Phillips

Raeleigh Phillips is accused of leaving her baby boy in a car seat for 13 hours. The baby died of positional asphyxia, Indiana prosecutors say. (Dearborn County Jail)

An Indiana mother is behind bars after her 9-day-old baby boy died when she allegedly left him in a car seat for 13 hours and didn’t feed him for 14 hours.

Raeleigh Phillips, 22, is charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death, a level one felony, and reckless homicide, Prosecutor Lynn Deddens of the 7th Judicial Circuit said Wednesday. The Lawrenceburg Police Department around 2:30 a.m. on March 3 responded to an apartment at 71 Bellaire Drive for a report of an unresponsive infant. Paramedics rushed the baby to the hospital where doctors officially pronounced him dead.

Further investigation revealed the boy had been dead for “an extended period of time,” Deddens said. Detectives later interviewed Phillips, who allegedly told them she had left the boy in his car seat for 13 hours. Generally speaking, experts say you shouldn’t leave a baby or toddler in a car seat for longer than two hours.

“Phillips claimed she had fallen asleep and then found her infant son slouched in the car seat,” Deddens said. “The infant was cold, blue, and limp.”

According to an affidavit obtained by Cincinnati Fox affiliate WXIX, Phillips said she had put the boy in his car seat around 1 p.m. on March 2 and took him with her to Kroger. She said when they got home about an hour later he was asleep and seemed content so she left him in the car seat and took him into her apartment, the affidavit reportedly said. She reportedly watched TV and fell asleep between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. in her bedroom with the car seat next to her and didn’t wake up until about 2 a.m. March 3. When she checked on him, he was cold and limp, the documents reportedly stated.

Investigators determined that Phillips didn’t feed him for 14 hours and he wore a dirty diaper. Preliminary autopsy results revealed positional asphyxia as the cause of death. According to a report by Oklahoma State University, positional asphyxia occurs when something is covering a baby’s nose or mouth or when the air passage from the nose and mouth is blocked because the baby’s head is slumped over or pressing against the chest.

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“Infants and toddlers awake but unattended in a car seat or sling have died because their movements may block their nose and mouth, preventing breathing,” the report said.

Cops arrested Phillips on Tuesday and took her to jail where she has a $200,000.00 surety bond in addition to a $7,500.00 cash bond. Her next court date is scheduled for May 16.

Court records show in 2021 cops arrested Phillips for maintaining a common nuisance, neglect of a dependent and possession of marijuana and paraphernalia. She pleaded guilty to the neglect of a dependent charge and a judge sentenced her to a 545 suspended jail sentence and probation.

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